Boxing: Eubank keeps control: Harry Mullan applauds the acumen of a smart fighter who makes much of modest talent

Click to follow
The Independent Online
CHRIS EUBANK is a man of many parts, not all of them compatible with the public's perception of him as a swaggering, arrogant egoist. The World Boxing Organisation champion, who defends his super-

middleweight title against Mauricio Amaral of Brazil at Olympia in London on Saturday, is also a passionately committed member of the fledgling Professional Boxers Association, and startled the 500 guests at last week's first PBA annual dinner by telling his fellow- pros, in an unscheduled speech, to 'take charge of their own careers or risk ending up bitter, twisted and resentful'.

'We employ the managers, not the other way round,' he said. 'We pay them 25 per cent to get us the best deal going, and yet too often we are treated as the employee.'

Barry Hearn, his long-

suffering promoter, will confirm that Eubank practises what he preaches. Their relationship reflects a mutually rewarding partnership, rather than the faintly feudal attitudes which prevail in a business in which managers traditionally refer to their 'stables', as if the young men who have entrusted them with their careers were not so much as horse-meat.

Between them, Eubank and Hearn have taken a fourth-rate championship and turned it into the most lucrative property in the history of British boxing. The WBO ranks in prestige a long way behind its rivals and is barely recognised in the US, yet Sky Sports claim to be paying Eubank pounds 10m for the right to screen eight of his defences in the next 12 months.

It has, indeed, been the ultimate marketing exercise, a superbly stage-managed succession of easy wins interspersed with just enough meaningful matches to keep the public guessing as to whether Eubank is indeed Simply The Best. The accumulating evidence suggests that he is not: two desperately tight battles with the Irishman Ray Close and a draw with the World Boxing Council champion Nigel Benn raise enough doubts to encourage a young and ambitious puncher such as the 23-year-old Brazilian.

The publicity machine has made much of the enormity of the challenge Eubank has taken on, but while such a programme is unusual in modern boxing there are ample precedents. Henry Armstrong defended the welterweight title 13 times between January 1939 and January 1940, and squeezed in an unsuccessful defence of his lightweight title in August 1939. He defended the welterweight crown five times in October alone: now that's a busy champion.

Amaral is virtually unknown outside Brazil, and only 15 of his claimed 21 victories can be substantiated by any of the generally accepted record compilers. Twelve of his wins have come inside the distance, and he also boxed one draw. The solitary loss, though, could be significant. He was outpointed by the lightly regarded Daniel Sclarandi in May 1991, a year after Sclarandi had been knocked out in two rounds by Chris Pyatt of Leicester.

That is not world championship form, and while the signs are that Eubank may be entering the final phase of his remarkable career, he still has more than enough in the tank to see off this level of opposition. The real tests in his eight-fight programme are more likely to come towards the end of the series, when James Toney and Gerald McClellan could ask him sterner questions than the inexperienced Amaral.

Brighton and Hove Albion have pulled out of staging the second of Chris Eubank's scheduled eight title fights. The bout had been pencilled in for 27 August at the Goldstone Ground, but Brighton's chief executive, David Bellotti, said yesterday that financial considerations had forced them to abandon the idea.

Harry Mullan has been given the first Professional Boxers Association award for services to boxing.

Comments