Boxing: Eubank labours to victory

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The Independent Online
CHRIS EUBANK retained his World Boxing Organisation super-middlewqeight title at Olympia last night when he beat Lindell Holmes, of Toledo, over 12 gruelling rounds.

The three judges gave the decision to the Brighton-based champion by a margin of five, two and 11 rounds. The first score seemed the most appropriate. Although such figures reflect Eubank's superiority, they do not do justice to the grit of Holmes, at 35 years of age making a comeback only because he has run out of money, in lasting the course.

The suspicion was that a younger Holmes might well have beaten Eubank. But punches that 52 fights ago were hitting the target were now left hanging in the air.

Eubank had been the prohibitive pre-fight favourite. Holmes was not given any chance at all even though in his prime - approximately a decade ago - he was an outstanding fighter. But Holmes looked relaxed as he stood in the ring awaiting Eubank while his manager Billy Gutz examined the canvas advertising. Despite much fanfare from promoter Barry Hearn and record- breaking numbers of flag-waving bimbos, the gate was disappointing.

Eubank started faster than usual and in a frantic opening Holmes went down on the canvas. But it was only a slip and although Eubank tried to catch him with sweeping hooks and upper-cuts, Holmes was well covered up.

Holmes continued shuffling forward cagily in the second and when Eubank caught him flush with his trademark upper-cut, Holmes showed no sign of distress. Eubank finished the round with a swelling under his left eye. Holmes was not in the least bit interested in Eubank's attempt at between-rounds dialogue.

Holmes had shown he was not just fighting from memory. Although Eubank, 26, was the faster, the American had better technique and clipped Eubank in the third with a short right.

Just as manager Gutz was looking pleased with himself and the morose Holmes was growing in confidence, Eubank found his first telling punch at the end of the fourth - a right hand that took Holmes' legs away briefly and had him stumbling back into the ropes, to be saved by the bell.

But Eubank squandered his advantage by posing at the start of the fifth, giving Holmes time to clear his head.

Holmes found himself in a storm of punches in the sixth as Eubank tried to impose his will on him. But Holmes rode it out, emerging from his shell with flurries of hooks. But it was Eubank who was winning, and it was noticeable that Holmes was blowing.

In the seventh Holmes hurt Eubank with a slicing right and followed up with an elbow for good measure. Eubank went into retreat, but Holmes does not have the legs these days to mount long- range pursuits.

As the fight entered the later rounds, the crowd was becoming restless. Aware that recent victories have not enhanced his reputation as a dynamic performer, Eubank tried to finish it. But his right handswere telegraphed and Holmes more than adequately covered up. In the ninth Eubank raised his arms aloft; a gesture met by jeers. But Eubank responded with his best attack yet, having Holmes reeling in a neutral corner with his left eye cut. Holmes suddenly looked very old.

It was sad to see Eubank not accept the veteran Holmes's gesture of respect at the end of the 10th. But this is not the politest business in the world, and as if to emphasise the point, Holmes continued to plant elbows and low blows on Eubank whenever he was on the blind side of the referee.

On the undercard, Michael Ayers retained his World Boxing Council 'International' bauble when Danny Myburgh of South Africa was not allowed out for the fifth round by the referee. Ayers is a terrific puncher from Tooting, but last night he had a taste of someone else's leather when the plucky Myburgh dropped him in the fourth with a right cross.

Ayers was up straight away, and luckily for him it did not matter as by then he had ripped open a cut above Myburgh's left eye and pounded him with bombs to head and body. Despite his corner's protest at the conclusion Myburgh had shaken his head at the end of the fourth and may have been relieved to be spared further lumps.

PROFESSIONAL PROMOTION (Olympia, London): 8-rd featherweight: Tim Driscoll (Bermondsey) bt Derek Amory (Birmingham) pts. 6- rd light-welterweight: Mark Tibbs (West Ham) bt Mark Pearce (Cardiff) pts. 6-rd lightweight: Patrick Gallagher (Tottenham) bt Joe Fanning (Birmingham) ret 1st. 12-rd WBC International lightweight championship: Michael Ayres (Islington, holder) bt Danny Myburgh (SA) rsf 5th. 8-rd middleweight: Steve Collins (Dublin) bt Ian Strudwick (Hockley) rsf 7th. 12-rd for the WBO super-middleweight championship: Chris Eubank (Brighton) bt Lindell Holmes (US) pts.