Eubank back on easy street

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CHRIS EUBANK'S win over Argentine champion Bruno Godoy at the King's Hall last night in two minutes and 45 seconds leaves us none the wiser as to the former WBO super- middleweight champion's prospects of regaining his title from Irishman Steve Collins when they meet again this summer, probably in Dublin in July.

The South American was cut twice, first on the bridge of the nose in the opening minute and then, more seriously, an inch-long cut opened along the length of his left eyebrow. Eubank immediately gestured to referee Larry O'Connell, and when Godoy himself indicated his unhappiness by pawing at the injury with his right glove, O'Connell led him to his corner for the most cursory of inspections before indicating that it was all over.

Godoy, the South American champion, had been billed as "The Beast", but one can only surmise that the nickname owed more to his prowess in the boudoir than in the boxing ring - he has nine children.

There was certainly no indication in the brief time the fight lasted that the 32-year-old Godoy was capable of causing an upset as Eubank caught him repeatedly with jabs and overarm rights, blocking the Argentine's left-hook counters with his elbow.

Godoy complained in his corner afterwards that the injury had been caused by a butt, and there did seem to have been an accidental clash of heads. But Eubank, weighing a career heaviest 12st 31/4lb, had looked poised and assured in his first appearance since losing the title in March.

Afterwards, Eubank, talking about the Godoy cut, said: "I don't know what did it. It didn't seem like a clash of heads for me, but that's the fight game - that's the way the cookie crumbles." And he insisted the defeat by Collins had helped him, saying: "I've had time to re-evaluate my situation. I had time to rest from the loss. Now I see clearly. I did not prepare correctly for that fight, but he cheated.

"Anyone who uses a hypnotist is cheating. If you want to beat me, beat me fairly and squarely. You take it properly if you want to take it at all. The hypnotist spooked me. But the loss has made me stronger, wiser and more confident."

Although cast in an unfamiliar role as an ex-champion, Eubank's entry had all the familiar strutting and posing, and he came into the ring promising to be "a more ruthless" and less chivalrous fighter than before. He admitted he had developed a bad habit during his reign as a champion and insisted that he was "more focused".

Now Eubank must await the outcome of purse bids for his rematch with Collins. The bids are due to be opened in New York this week and fierce competition is expected between Eubank's promoter, Barry Hearn, and Frank Warren, who now has the cushion of a reported pounds 60m deal behind him. Warren has made no secret of his admiration for Collins and would welcome the opportunity to promote the Irishman, who has spent most of his professional career in America and has considerable appeal in the ethnic market there.

Earlier, the WBO welterweight champion, Eamonn Loughran of Ballymena, seemed to have defeated his third championship challenger when Angel Beltre of the Dominican Republic was cut over the right eye in the third round and was ruled unfit to continue after the ringside doctor, George O'Neill, had inspected the injury in his corner. Later, however, the bout was declared "no contest".

It had been developing into a fascinating boxer-puncher duel, with the stylish and poised Beltre matching his left jab and mobility against Loughran's forceful body punching, not all of it legitimate. Loughran had won the first two rounds on my card, although the stylish Beltre was still very much in contention when the cut appeared late in the third round after an accidental clash of heads.

"I would have preferred the fight to go another four or five rounds," said Loughran, whose defence against former champion Manning Galloway ended in a similar way in December.

After reviewing the fight, the WBO supervisor, Ramon Pina Acevedo of Puerto Rico, ruled the fight "no contest"on the basis that the clash of heads had been unintentional. That gives Beltre a strong claim for a rematch although the colourful Irishman is likely to look for more rewarding matches against the three rival claimants to the world title.