By Keith Lambert
Eubank pours advice to young fighters
Having caught up with Chris Eubank Sr in the reception of Cabot Hotel, Bristol prior to his sons weigh-in at Cabot Circus, I got the chance to ask ‘big’ Chris some more questions about his own early career progression.
“Sufficiently dealing with a southpaw stance is one of the most difficult situations for an orthodox boxer. In my teenaged days in New York, when I used to fight in Golden Gloves and Empire Games, opposing coaches would never let their fighter warm-up in the southpaw position.
“Then, when the bell rang, they would come out as southpaw and I’d lost the first round with only 60 seconds to absorb instructions for the second of three rounds. I lost all four fights I contested against southpaws in the amateur ranks, more than half of my pre-pro losses; the other pre-pro fights I lost were against either guys a weight or two above me or occasion size beyond my experience level.
“You’re trained to expect certain punches coming from certain sides, and when you’re faced with a southpaw, they come from the opposite sides and this throws you off. The southpaw who can hit is dangerous because he blindsides you and throws a hard shot from an angle you do not see.
“Joe Calzaghe put me on my back for the first time in my life in just 15 seconds because I simply did not see the punch coming. Not even the world’s hardest pound-for-pound punchers – Richard Burton, Anthony Logan, Nigel Benn, Lindell Holmes and Henry Wharton – could put me on my back. Yet Calzaghe, a southpaw, managed to do so in next to no time.
“What worked for me was circling anti-clockwise, away from the southpaws jab and hook, and beating him to the punch with your left hook against his straight left, since you are nearer with your short punch and he is further with his long punch.”
“I had a taste of it in my amateur career when I was photographed in the Daily News after I won the Spanish Golden Gloves in my fifteenth amateur fight and during my semi-final fight in the Golden Gloves which was an English immigrant against a Trinidadian immigrant.
“I was on national United States TV when I was 17 years old in Empire Games, and fought in front of 19,000 at the Madison Square Gardens at age 18, both of which threw me off.
“My first four professional fights were televised on the East Coast of United States, against fellow East Coast Golden Gloves champions, and my fifth fight was live on ESPN in the States. When I came back to the United Kingdom in June 1987, Nigel Benn was already a huge star, and I couldn’t get on live TV until April 1990, 17 fights later.
“I knew the Benn fight would change my life forever more and so it did. This was no longer amateur Golden Gloves level, this was professional World Championship class against the No. 1 middleweight on the planet!”
“If you fight for money, you’re not going to make greatness. In Benn I and Watson II, I was fighting for respect. The first three rounds of both fights were so ferocious that those two fights became a matter of ‘don’t fall, don’t quit, don’t stop, don’t walk, don’t escape’. I was fighting for respect. Money was the last thing on my mind.
“The sign of a great champion is he who can fight to the death the hard way. Like Tyson did against Lewis. In Benn 2 and Rocchigiani, I came forward non-stop for 12 rounds straight throwing punches – it wasn’t about the money. I knew how hard Benn hit, and I knew how hostile Germans were towards English upstarts. I knew these fighters were champions in their own right.
“I’m fighting for honour. I take on Steve Collins in his home yard, something not even the very best African, American and European middleweights would do, I take on Joe Calzaghe, a southpaw, and Carl Thompson, a cruiserweight. I don’t have to.”
“The key is to pick up experience against every different style in front of the crowds and cameras. I had southpaws, high-handed defensive fighters, low-handed offensive fighters, high-handed offensive fighters, low-handed defensive fighters, big guys, small guys.
“I fought at Wembley and Royal Albert Hall as a novice, I fought 10 fights in a year, I completed 12 rounds before I challenged for the World Championship. I had in many ways the perfect upbringing in terms of the fights and I can pass on that experience. I didn’t earn money out of it. I was on a very tight financial budget outside of the ring and this is important to keep hunger.
“If I was a millionaire before I even had my first fight, I wouldn’t have even had my first fight and that’s just honesty. Money is like a thief, a snide. It takes hunger. It’s all about integrity, it’s all about doing things the hard way, the correct way. I pass this on to Christopher and I know for a fact that it will maximize his success.”
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