How Chris Eubank’s influence over son’s career gradually began to wane ahead of James DeGale fight

It is obvious that the 52-year-old icon of British boxing still has his son's ear but his influence on Eubank Jr's career appears to be waning

Declan Taylor
Saturday 23 February 2019 11:04
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James DeGale v Chris Eubank Jr: Tale of the Tape

Chris Eubank Jr’s workout had been finished for over an hour when his two-weight world champion dad swept into the seafront gym at which he trains.

After warmly greeting nearly everyone inside the subterranean sweatshop, set just back from the stones of Hove beach, Eubank Sr beckoned his son into a small changing room for a chat and closed the door behind them.

It is obvious that the 52-year-old icon of British boxing still has his son's ear but his influence on Eubank Jr's career appears to be waning.

In past days like this, when members of the media are allowed inside the gym, Senior would be ever-present. If he was not answering questions on the youngster's behalf, he would be in the background of nearly every photograph.

But it says much that during the build-up for Saturday's eagerly-awaited encounter with James DeGale at the the o2 Arena, Eubank Sr has hardly even been in the country.

“I've been in Africa,” he told The Independent. “Rwanda and Nairobi. I was gorilla trekking.

“Did you know there are only around 1,000 gorillas left in that part of Africa? I've been trying to highlight that.

“Then also going to Nairobi and going to the giraffe manor. I've basically been looking at wildlife.”

The timing for such a trip, it would seem, is peculiar. Senior has been accused of trying to hog the limelight with regards to his son's career in the past but the same cannot be said for fight No.30. Indeed, when Junior posted the usual picture to mark the end of training camp, there was no sign of his father in the six-man team.

“With Junior,” Eubank says, casting his eye around the gym. “Look, he can do it.

“He knows what he's doing so I only actually had to come back for the last two weeks. Let's see. It looked like he needed some breathing space and he's had it so... good.

“If he has paid attention to what he's supposed to pay attention to, in terms of respecting the people who support him. If he's listening to his trainer – or trainers – then he should be OK.”

Such unemphatic predictions are a far cry from when Eubank Sr declared that his son would take over from Floyd Mayweather Jr as the face of global boxing, or that he would make easy work of the brilliant pound-for-pound stars Andre Ward and Gennady Golovkin. Times, however, have changed.

Eubank Jr has failed to live up to his early promise

The weekend brought up exactly one year since Eubank Jr was beaten by George Groves. It was the second defeat of his career following his 2014 loss to Billy Joe Saunders. Those two results have lead to Eubank Sr questioning what he once thought about his son, in particular what he describes as 'spirituality'.

“The advice is this: work ethic is important but don't underestimate the spiritual world,” he said. “Sometimes it's because you're not looking at the spiritual aspects of your life that you can't actually reach where you want to reach.

“With Junior, we'll see. How do you make sense of someone who is so talented losing those two fights. Isn't it peculiar how he has lost two fights? George Groves showed he is an excellent fighter by what he proved in the fight but we just know if Junior had showed up for that fight it would have been fantastic. But he didn't show up. Why didn't he show up?

“It isn't only physical, it's also spiritual. It's about having one mind. Not interviews, not parties, not swag, not plasma TVs, fashion and sports cars. No. With James DeGale now I feel like Junior is everything I believe him to be, if he shows up. Let's see.”

Groves got the better of Eubank Jr last year

Eubank Sr, along with his former trainer Ronnie Davis, also appear to have been further sidelined by Junior's decision to employ Mexican-American coach Nate Vasquez after they met in the Mayweather Boxing Club during the summer.

The 29-year-old super-middleweight has famously nearly always trained himself but both his father and Davis have played a major role in his coaching throughout his eight years as a professional.

For this fight, however, Junior flew in Vasquez – along with sparring partner Denis Douglin – and even put them up in his luxury Sussex mansion for the entirety of camp.

When asked whether he was comfortable with his son's new-look training team, Eubank Sr was unusually lost for words. “Let me explain this to you,” he said. “Ok, so...what I want to get across is this.

Eubank Jr at Friday's weigh-in

“How can I do this while sounding self-effacing? Anyone you bring in, do you think they're showing me something I don't know? No.

“He's happy with the new trainer. Me? I'm baffled... Put me in a room with the best trainers in the world and let's talk.

“Let's see who talks and who is silent. What can you say to someone like me? When you've got 19 world championship wins, it's almost like you're cursed because you're too good.

“A lot of people in the training world, trainers who train fighters, they say 'we can't really have him around because he's overqualified'. You aren't going to show me something I haven't seen. Nobody can bring something to me that I don't already know, not in boxing. That's where I've mastered my trade, I can't talk in other fields.”

Davis carrying Eubank's WBO super-middleweight world title, in 1994 (Getty)

On Davis, the man who guided him from the corner throughout his own career, Eubank Sr added: “With respect, you can't compare this young man [Vasquez] to Ronnie. One of the reasons why Mayweather is so prolific is because he's got something like 200 years of experience in his camp – and they're his family. Where he has been clever is that he listened to his family.

“When you've got Ronnie... look at me. I had one guy next to me throughout my entire career. You think this is a joke going through these important contests and winning them? You have to show up.

“If you don't produce the goods, you're very quickly forgotten.”

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