Insult to boxing history: Ken Jones on Monday

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The Independent Online
THE announcement of Howard Winstone's name at the Cardiff International Arena on Saturday night put Chris Eubank's careeer in the correct perspective.

Winstone, a Welsh sporting legend, the gifted former world featherweight champion from Merthyr Tydfil whose heroic efforts included a total of 42 gripping rounds against Vicente Saldivar. What, one wondered, was going through Winstone's mind as he contemplated the millionaire status Eubank has achieved by cynically capitalising on opportunities afforded by fragmented authority and a gullible television audience?

You may think professional boxing is now so far beyond denigration that Eubank is entitled to exploit it for all he is worth, but what we saw on Saturday was an insult to history. The posturing Eubank brought to the predictable destruction of a spirited but grossly overmatched challenger for the World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight championship, Sam Storey from Belfast, was ludicrous even by his own immensely boring standards.

After nine victories on points Eubank stirred himself to win inside the distance, stopping Storey in the seventh when an ankle injury made it impossible to mount further serious resistance. Explaining his eagerness to throw in the towel, Storey's manager, Barney Eastwood, said: 'The boy was only being paid ( pounds 40,000) for six rounds not twelve.'

As Eubank was unable to establish any authority over Storey until he floored him with a short right in the sixth, it is now abundantly clear that future opponents for a ridiculous World Tour funded by Sky Television will have to be of the barrel-scraping variety.

On the evidence of this and other recent performances, Eubank would be wise to leave a contest against the International Boxing Federation title holder, James Toney, strictly at the speculative stage, which is probably where he aims to keep it.

As the WBO middleweight and super-middleweight champion Eubank has only undertaken four serious contests, two against Nigel Benn and two against the ill- fated Michael Watson. The remainder of his opponents have been plucked from the ever-mysterious WBO ratings.

In crisis, Eubank has given an exceptional account of himself, especially in the first contest against Benn and the second against Watson. But the prospect of crisis has never been high on the agenda set by Eubank and his principal advisor, the ubiquitous Barry Hearn (the latest of Hearns' promotional fantasies is a decider against Benn at Cardiff Arms Park). Hearn was once asked about the possibility of Eubank meeting Mike McCallum when the Jamaican light-heavyweight was a middleweight. 'What would McCallum bring?' he asked, meaning money. 'Danger,' came the reply.

The issue is whether a moderate talent will come to be regarded as significant in the history of British boxing. If so the sport has lost its way completely.

When Eubank knocked Storey down he immediately took up station in a neutral corner. On completion of an eight count he stayed there, beckoning Storey to him. 'That's taking the piss out of boxing,' said a former champion, which just about sums up most of Eubank's career.