Mindful Collins

Bob Mee believes mind games will beat Chris Eubank in Cork on Saturday
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BOXERS are the most obsessive of men. And on Saturday in Cork, two of the most obsessive of boxers, Steve Collins and Chris Eubank, face each otheracross a ring for the second time in six months.

Both are mercenaries in a ruthless business, in which its exponents are too often disposable commodities. Remember Brian London's famous complaint: "We're only prawns in the game"? Times have changed since London's day but the principle remains. Only a few keep their money.

Eubank and Collins are both family men intent on proving themselves the exception to that rule. They take the view that, in boxing, loyalty is a loaded word. They do not make friends in boxing's odd world. They enter the ring for business purposes only and return home as soon as possible.

Eubank lives in luxury outside Brighton with his wife Karron and children Christopher, Sebastian and Emily. He has money tied up in property, but admits he spends freely and says he has income tax debts.

Collins has bought land near Dublin and plans to settle there with his family to live in comfort once his career is over. Like Eubank, what he achieves now is the basis of his ability to provide in the future.

Eubank lost his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title to Collins in March over 12 fiercely contested rounds. Both were knocked down, but Collins outworked, outsped and outboxed the Englishman to earn the unanimous approval of the judges. Some say Collins won the fight 24 hours earlier when he engineered a story that he had undergone a course of hypnosis. The story was designed to attack Eubank's own psychological preparations and diminish the mental superiority he usually enjoys. Eubank labelled the stunt "legalised cheating".

While Collins has worked hard in the Los Angeles gym of his new trainer, Freddie Roach, Eubank has won quickly in non-title fights against Bruno Godoy and Jose Ignacio Barruetabena. After the latter he sent a message to Collins: "If you want to lose your life, if you want to cheat by using schoolboy tactics, it's down to you. I'll have no remorse." A pounds 5,000 British Boxing Board of Control fine followed.

Eubank says he will use his greater weight of punch to win inside the distance. However, it was Mike Tyson's mentor, Cus D'Amato, who suggested boxing was mostly psychological. "If a fighter refuses to be knocked out, there's no way you can do it," he said. "It's a matter of will."

And that is what this fight comes down to. I suspect that Eubank, having been outworked by Collins once, will try to knock him out. And, in an echo of their previous fight, Collins, refusing to be knocked out, will outwork Eubank to win on points.