Boxing: Eubank's rule by realism: Jonathan Rendall on a problem for the promoter of a truculent British boxer

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The Independent Online
BARRY HEARN, the promoter, is in a quandary. He just does not know what to do next with his truculent World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight champion, Chris Eubank. After Eubank had beaten Lindell Holmes, an American ancient, at Olympia on Saturday, Hearn said: 'It's come to the stage where I'm thinking of opening a suggestion box.'

Television, for so long Eubank's great ally, is even hedging. Yesterday Gary Newbon, the ITV commentator and Central's head of sport, said: 'I think it's testing everybody's credibility when you're telling people it's going to be a great fight and yet you know that here you have Eubank against a 35-year-old going on 36 who is in the death throes of his career. It turned out to be a good fight. But my fears were before the fight.'

Newbon added: 'I still think that Eubank, Barry Hearn and ITV complement each other. But Barry has the hardest job - he's got to find the opponents. My complaint was not about Eubank's performance but about the starting opponent. I may be wrong, and I hope I am, in thinking that the viewing figures may be down. It all depends on when the ratings come through in nine days' time.'

At this very moment Hearn is likely hunched over his desk in the offices of Matchroom Ltd in Romford. At the end of the corridor is the office of Steve Davis. The snooker player has no doubt been counselled, but to no avail. And Eubank won't help. After the fight Eubank said: 'I do as much as I have to to win.' Such candid statements have elevated Eubank in the fight public's mind to the position of liberty-taker supreme, whom it would dearly like to see chinned.

Hearn does not mind this unreasonable outlook if it sells tickets and books armchair seats; and it still does. But the problem is that Eubank is a realist. He picks his own opponents. He has a realistic view of those that are likely to stand a chance of chinning him. Although Eubank is also a considerable egoist, it is realism that gets the nod.

The Holmes fight offered a chance for Hearn to escape the dilemma he had been hoping that Eubank would inflict so devastating and facile a beating on Holmes that his ego - already aroused by five easy defences - would be inflamed to thinking that he was ready to beat anyone.

Certain comments of Eubank before the fight encouraged this speculative view and must have had Hearn dreaming of unification matches that Eubank would sign for; for the glory, as well as the money.

But it was not to be. Holmes saw to that with a stubborn last hurrah that salvaged the fight as a spectacle but raised neither Eubank's stock, nor, one presumes, his confidence. The effect is likely to jolt Eubank back into realistic mode and cause fantastic demands to be dispatched from Brighton to Romford whenever such matches are again mooted.

One idea Hearn has is to match Eubank with the Irish boxer he now promotes, Steve Collins. Collins boxed on the undercard on Saturday and looked a real threat. He also has a big following back home. Eubank v Collins in Dublin, seems to Hearn a natural. But asking Eubank to box an Irishman in Ireland will invite justifiably truculent responses of a prospective chinnee and thus may prove doomed.

The World Boxing Council and International Boxing Council world heavyweight champion, Riddick Bowe, has agreed to a rematch with Evander Holyfield, whom he beat last November in one of the most exciting heavyweight fights in years.' It may be my next title defence. I am ready for him,' Bowe said.

Julio Cesar Chavez, of Mexico, retained his WBC super-lightweight title in front of 136,000 - the largest crowd in boxing history - in Mexico City with a fifth- round stoppage against Greg Haugen, of the United States. It was his 85th consecutive victory. There were three other world title fights on the bill. Michael Nunn, of the United States, knocked out his compatriot, Danny Morgan, in the first round, to retain his World Boxing Association super-middleweight title in emphatic style. The Ghanaian, Azumah Nelson, defeated Gabriel Ruelas, of the United States, on a split decision in their WBC super-featherweight title bout and Terry Norris stopped his fellow American, Maurice Blocker, in the second round of their fight for the WBC super-welterweight crown.

(Photograph omitted)

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