Boxing: Eubank wins a bloody bore

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The Independent Online
IT MAY be just as well that Chris Eubank plans to take the rest of his eight-fight 'world tour' on the road, for on the evidence of the public's response to his dreary, unanimous points win over Brazilian Mauricio Amaral here last night, he has already outstayed his welcome in London.

The Grand Hall was barely half-filled for Eubank's 11th defence of the World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title, although the prospect of watching 11 rather more compelling Brazilians in the World Cup quarter-final may have had quite a lot to do with that.

The challenger made a composed and impressive start. He was not in the least intimidated by Eubank's customary pre-fight posturing and landed with disturbing ease to Eubank's head with wide, sweeping right hands which produced little in the way of positive response. Amaral used his reach well, although he was conceding four inches to the champion's 73in reach. Eubank at last began to find the range for his left jab midway through the second round but Amaral neatly blocked the body punches which followed.

A useful right hand from Amaral early in the third raised a slight swelling under Eubank's left eye and the champion responded immediately with a brisk two-handed attack which at one stage had the Brazilian looking disorganised as he scrambled, hands down, out of a neutral corner.

The fourth and fifth rounds saw Eubank comfortably settled into his routine, doing just enough to keep control of the exchanges without ever sparking much excitement. A couple of left hooks late in the fourth round reminded Amaral that he was sharing the ring with an undefeated world champion.

Eubank looked more purposeful early in the sixth, backing the challenger around the ring with long left jabs and right crosses, but these days he seems to lack either the inclination or the ability to dispose of opponents inside a schedule.

The fight's pattern changed dramatically in the seventh when a two-handed flailing attack by the Brazilian split open a cut on Eubank's left eyebrow. Blood flowed down the side of the champion's face as Amaral, taking new heart from the Brighton fighter's obvious concern, kept the pressure up to win the round.

Eubank was content to stay out of trouble in the eighth as Amaral, long on stamina if short on technique, kept pressing forward. A solid left hook took Eubank by surprise, but he boxed his way carefully through the rest of the round and then, somewhat unprofessionally, wasted 20 seconds striking a pose in mid-ring which could have been more usefully employed having his eye treated.

The ninth was a messy round, with Eubank looking jaded until he landed his best punch of the fight, a solid right upper cut which shook the challenger, in its final moments.

The 10th was dreary, the only highlight coming when Amaral buckled from a left jab, although once again Eubank bafflingly stood back and let him recover. He almost paid for his compassion in the 11th when for the first time the challenger put him in serious trouble with a big right to the head which sent Eubank staggering back. But the champion quickly recovered himself and, showing impeccable timing, saved his best effort for the closing seconds of the round to catch the judges' eye with a fine flurry.

Amaral tried hard to salvage the fight in the final round but Eubank, despite the blood, was much too composed and controlled to allow himself to be flustered. He once again had the last word as the weary challenger, five years Eubank's junior, hung on to survive the final 20 seconds.