Boxing: Eubank rules dream world

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THE old boxing lament of 'we wuz robbed' can rarely have rung truer than it did in Sun City last night after an outrageous decision denied the obscure American Dan Schommer a deserved victory and allowed Britain's Chris Eubank to retain his WBO super-middleweight title for the 13th time.

The three judges, two from Puerto Rico and one from South Africa, plumbed new depths of incompetence even by the spectacular standards of the WBO when they gave Eubank the verdict by scores of 116-114, 117-113, and 116-113. Scoring from the Sky TV transmission, I thought Eubank had lost by a decisive 117-113 and, to judge from the expressions on the faces of the Eubank entourage as they awaited the official announcement, so did they.

It was a feeble, hesitant and utterly unconvincing display by Eubank against a man whom he had been expected to dismiss with ease. The 34-year-old southpaw from St Paul had never competed outside the journeyman league, and had boxed only twice in the last three years. His entitlement to a top ten ranking was a matter between the WBO ratings committee and their collective conscience: it certainly had no basis in logic. But he proved a difficult and well schooled opponent whose hit-and-run style seemed to confuse Eubank.

Normally it is the other man who is bewildered by Eubank's unorthodoxy, but Schommer, a business studies graduate, had done his homework and never allowed himself to be intimidated by the strangely lethargic champion. Maybe Eubank's sluggish display had something to do with the weakening effects of his ongoing battle with the scales which this time required him to remove one of his socks to make the 12st weight limit, but even so he should never have had so much difficulty with a man whose basic right jab, left cross armoury lacked the variety and imagination which separates champions from also-rans.

Yet over these 12 rounds, there can be no doubt that Schommer did more than enough to take the title and snap Eubank's unbeaten run at 42. Eubank has had his share of controversial decisions, but never one as shockingly bad as this. He struggled throughout to come to grips with the elusive and durable Schommer, and every time he managed to connect with his trademark looping right to the head Schommer always came back at him with both hands pumping. There was never a moment in the fight when either looked shaken, but then neither was there much in the way of consistently clean or solid scoring.

Eubank acknowledged the closeness of the call when he said afterwards: 'If he had got the decision I wouldn't have been complaining. He put up a good fight and he certainly deserves a rematch. I think the judges scored it for me because of my aggression - I kept going forward and taking the fight to him, but his southpaw stance proved difficult. Controversy is never far from Chris Eubank.'

Meanwhile, hope springs eternal for Billy Hardy, the British and Commonwealth featherweight champion. Now 30, and beaten twice in attempts on the world bantamweight title, the Sunderland veteran aims for a third world title bid, either at super-bantam or featherweight, after retaining his Commonwealth title with a decisive points win over the South African champion, Stanford Ngcebeshe, on the Eubank undercard.