By Keith Lambert
When did you first believe that you could be world champion in boxing?
There was a fighter called Dennis Milton in the Bronx, who peaked in the amateur ranks and who defeated Iran Barkley and Michael Nunn at that level. I always equalled this fighter Milton in sparring. My first 10 fights I took for money and I had no concrete intention of taking it further. Then I watched Barkley and Nunn out of nowhere win the world championships and thought it more than possible for me because I had improved tenfold in the previous couple of years. I thought I could be equal best with the Barkleys and Nunns.
Who were your favourite fighters to watch?
Thomas Hearns when he boxed rather than brawled, and Tyson when he brawled rather than boxed.
Who was better, Steve Collins or Nigel Benn?
The difference is this: Collins had a resolve and fortitude that was twice as much as his ability. Benn had one and a half times more ability than Collins but Steve made him quit twice, because Benn lacked fortitude and true fighting grit.
Was Joe Calzaghe the best you fought?
Michael Watson in our second fight, by far, was the best I fought. Calzaghe had the fastest hands, Rocchigiani the tightest defense, Benn the hardest punches and Wharton the strongest chin. But Watson was close to each and put it all together in our return contest.
Why did the transatlantic fights never occur, against the likes of Michael Nunn and James Toney or even Roy Jones?
They were all champions in their own right, just as I was. When the time came to fight Nunn, he lost his title, and when the time came to fight Toney, he lost his title, and when the time came to fight Jones, I lost my title.
Transatlantic fights did occur against avoided operators over there like Lindell Holmes, Ron Essett and Dan Schommer, who all had equally questionable decisions go against them overseas. I didn’t see Nunn, Toney or Jones fight these strategic spoilers.
Who in your mind are the greatest middleweights that have lived?
Very difficult for me to offer because I have never intently studied the boxing history. But I do know that they contested more frequently in the 70s, the 60s, the 50s. The likes of Bernard Hopkins, James Toney and Roy Jones are not middleweight fighters in a historical context, because they fought twice a year and had months and months to make the weight limit. Hopkins then, just like now, would have been a light-heavyweight.
Hagler was at his most poetic and best in the 70s, fighting frequently on an ultra-tough East Coast circuit and already on the tip of being a great fighter.
That’s all I can really offer. I can’t say Sugar Ray Robinson beats Sugar Ray Leonard or Jake MaMotta beats Iran Barkley, or vice-versa, because it wouldn’t be fair if I suggested so because what one is to do is keep all the eras to themselves.
Do I beat Carl Froch? If I believe so, I can’t say so, because it’s not fair.
Is the super-middleweight division in good health?
We’re waiting for that next crop to come through and give us exciting fights, which I believe will be spear-headed by my son, Christopher Eubank Jr.
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