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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Eubank Jr. and Saunders set to settle differences

Chris Eubank Jr. and Billy Joe Saunders will settle their differences at London's ExCel Arena on November 29th, when they do battle for the latters European middleweight title.




The 24-year-old Eubank Jr., son of the legendary former middleweight and super middleweight world champion, has campaigned as a professional for less than three years and he has gotten up the nose of Saunders, along with many other domestic contenders, for much of that duration.


The precocious puncher once said of Saunders, "I rate him as British standard, but the kid has nothing I couldn't deal with. He has decent hand speed and decent power, but I'd put him away in five or six rounds." He has also dubbed the Jimmy Tibbs trained star "Average Joe Saunders".


The British, Commonwealth, European and WBO International champion responded angrily, "He's s**t, absolutely rubbish. I'll smash him to pieces. He's terrible. I hate him and I don't like his dad!"


From the outside looking in, it seems that the belligerent Brighton boy has his irascible adversary exactly where he wants him. 


Like his father before him, Eubank has an uncanny knack of rubbing people up the wrong way. The way he carries himself has caused outrage and a vast amount of his fellow pro's are keen to knock him down a peg or two.


Although Eubank Jr. has shown glimpses of brilliance during his 17 fight winning streak, he is yet to square off against a genuine contender at the domestic level. And he has been involved in just one scheduled 10-rounder, which he won by knockout in the opening stanza.


The 25-year-old Saunders, a former Olympian, has competed in the paid ranks only three times more than his bitter rival, but he has travelled the championship distance on five occasions. He has shown the ability to dominate opponents, to weather a storm and to box his way to a decision. The traveller has earned his world ranking by overcoming respectable opposition like; Jarrod Fletcher, Nick Blackwell, Gary O'Sullivan, John Ryder and Emanuelle Blandamura.


Thanks to his southpaw style, quick hands, fleetfootedness and high work rate, Saunders is on the verge of a world title shot. The date with his nemesis is a high risk - low reward test, and a loss would seem very unnecessary.


Don't be fooled by their respective resum├ęs, though. Just because Eubank is yet to prove himself by defeating named competitors, doesn't necessarily mean that he is incapable of doing so. He possesses flashy hand speed, impressive movement (when he can actually be bothered to move), crushing punch power and self confidence that has been perceived as arrogance. 


Eubank has bludgeoned his last nine foes into oblivion and he has barely broken into a sweat in the process. Vaulting the top rope and posturing before, during and after bouts are antics that mirror yesteryear. 


With his father in tow, the controversial youngster's career has become a hot topic for boxing fans on social networking sites. Whether they love him or hate him, fight fans are quick to utter his name at every opportunity.


For all of his natural talent, physical strength and star quality, there are still questions that need to be answered. Can he take a punch? Can he fight hard for 12 rounds? Can he compete with a man who isn't simply there for a payday?


Tales of successful sparring sessions with the likes of James DeGale, George Groves, Nathan Cleverly and Carl Froch would suggest that this vivacious character is indeed the real deal. 


However, sparring and fighting are two very different things. A boxer could feel at ease whilst trading blows in the gymnasium, but he could freeze in the arena when it truly matters. The sound of a raucous crowd and the sight of the television cameras can cause a young man to go into his shell before a punch has been thrown. 


Saunders has already proven that he can handle the pressures of the big stage, but this will be the first time he has entered the ring to face a man he freely admits to hating. Whilst Eubank has shown no signs of wilting under the heavy burden of expectation to date, this will be his first taste of the big time and it will be the first 50-50 fight of his fledgling journey in the hurt game. 


When fight night comes around, barring any controversy, their rivalry will come to a climax and one man will prove superior. The winner will move into the higher echelons of the 160-pound division and start collecting paycheques containing plenty of zeroes, whilst the runner up will find himself on the comeback trail.


Luckily for both men, the British Isles are packed with quality fighters at middleweight and super middleweight. So even the loser won't have too far to look to find an attractive dance partner.