By Samuel Lee
Chris Eubank Sr, monocle and all, was in attendance for this past Saturdays rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves and I caught up with the legend at the Hilton. Hotel on Sunday
“What you had was an experienced, absorbent operator who used distance correctly, the correct calm, and got his punch across in the correct manner,” he stated. “George will come again, he’s still a 22-fight learner and clearly has better speed and moves than Froch, who has won something like 10 world championship contests; he can take something from that at least, you know?
“You can’t buy experience, and George proved his heart in a big way in trying to beat the count the very moment he was remotely conscious again following the finishing blow. He could’ve grabbed his ankle and pretended he had a bad ankle, but he didn’t. He was desperate to get back into it with a guy who could severely hurt him. I see a lot of potential in George Groves in accordance with that.
“On the other side of it, Carl could’ve taken a few time-outs on a knee when George started landing big, in the manner he was blinking and dabbing his eye. But he stayed in there, inched in there, persisted and took him with a near-perfect punch instead. Both these gentleman are genuine warriors.”
It seemed to question how Froch would have fared in the era of Eubank, Benn, Watson and Collins in the 80s and 90s.
“How would Carl have fared in my era? It’s impossible to say because he’s never experienced anything like it, and it would be unfair of me to say he wouldn’t have stood a chance because we don’t know, we have no proof either way,” he responded.
“When I was boxing, it wasn’t part-time boxing like it is today. We weren’t on holiday, we weren’t spoiled. It was 365 days a year in the gym, a fight a fortnight on the way up and a fight month or two as the champion of the world.
“It’s why I’m convinced my son will completely clean up the sport, because we’ve gone old school, the proper way. You can have all the talent in the world, as my son has, but there’s no substitute for punishing yourself and being hard.
“I spoke to Roy Jones and he said in his prime he would always be back on the road doing his morning roadwork a couple of hours after the fight! Myself, I was always back in the gym on the Monday morning after the fight, or I’d have lost every fight.”
On Froch’s ambition to fight in Las Vegas before he retires.
“The fight capital of the world is Las Vegas, if you can top a fight bill in Vegas to conquer one of their adopted sons when most are saying you can’t, you are King. Only Nigel Benn has done that from overseas.
“It’s why I sent my son there. Floyd Mayweather is in Vegas so so many aspiring fighters go there. Much like Duran and Benitez inspired so many young South Americans in New York City to contest with the toughest breed of Afro-Americans. It becomes a furnace.
“Regarding Carl fighting there and an opponent, I don’t think Andre Ward for instance is cut out for Vegas because he lacks charisma. He wouldn’t sell. It may be that Carl fights on an undercard and achieves his dream that way.”
On why many feel he never fought the best out there.
“Unintentionally, I fought the very best in Michael Watson in our second fight. In our first fight, it was said he was in a much better place than when he fought the maestro-like Mike McCallum in a close contest. In our second fight, he was leaps and bounds better than he was in the first. Literally unbeatable because he kept up the pace of a lightweight, as Jim Watt and Jim McDonnell will attest to, and was stronger than a 15 stone Carl Thompson.
“To find a way through the jungle of pain, the jungle of blistering punches in bunches, and win in a situation like that can be only be done with grit, integrity and resolve, the most honorable of traits.
“The reason I wouldn’t go out of my way to fight James Toney or Roy Jones in my prime is because I didn’t want another Watson II fight. Something I was quite honest about. The other reason is because I was never offered as much money as I was making in London and Europe, another thing I was very honest about.”
On his opposition, including Joe Calzaghe.
“In my 24 world championship contests in less than eight years, they were mostly against combatants who did better against the pound-for-pound listed American-based fighters, these exceptionally difficult southpaws fighters in the States at the time, the highly-touted USA Olympic Gold winners, and former and future and reigning world title holders, probably many times. All opponents, apart from Gary Stretch, Sam Storey and Dan Schommer, were doing better against that kind of opposition than they were against me.
“Maybe that was down my unique ring style, maybe the magnitude of a Eubank fight in the United Kingdom, the big crowd, the seemingly odd behavior. I don’t know. But I was certainly one of the very best, and rather than walking a tight rope to discover if I was the very best, I was content to know I was one of them and making a good living to give my children a good start.
“When I fought Mr Joe Calzaghe on 10 or 12 days notice, I saw no names on his record that I recognized. So I put him down as another Storey or Stretch and grossly underestimated the guy. He hit unbelievably hard back then before his hand and weight issues, harder than Carl Thompson. Sometimes I wish he came in with his ribs showing like he did later in his career, because those body shots he soaked up from me would’ve knocked him out. Other times I wish I took one step back to take him with one right uppercut in the last second.
“But those three losses at the end of my career made me. It was perfect.”