Chris Eubank: Uppercut Is Mayweather's Kryptonite!
By Lee Callan: One of the most articulate, intelligent and deep thinking boxers of his time (or all time, for that matter), Chris "Simply The Best" Eubank, gave his thoughts to me in correspondence through his Twitter profile @Chris_Eubank.
Article posted on 09.09.2011
I asked Chris for details of his early progression in America, his opinions on old adversary Nigel "The Dark Destroyer" Benn, why super-fights with Roy Jones Jr. and James "Lights Out" Toney never came off (and what would've happened if they had!), and his thoughts on Floyd "Money" Mayweather, plus much more!
Chris also gives opinion on why "Prince" Naseem Hamed has made no comeback, and, just how to beat Floyd Mayweather!
I was curious to know how Eubank did as an amateur in his days in New York City in the 1980's and what coverage etc he may of had back then, if any...
"I fought on ABC world sports in the United States in Empire Games and Golden Gloves and I fought in Madison Square Gardens for Spanish Golden Gloves and the main Golden Gloves in the main arena (19k spectators). This was all in the space of one and a half years after I first started sparring. The attention was on me because I was an Englishman but also Michael Bentt because he was an Englishman and Mike Tyson for obvious reasons there.
"It happened exceptionally quickly for me but so many future world champions came through with me in these amateur ranks like Bentt, Riddick Bowe, Jnr Jones, Vince Phillip, Charles Murray and Kevin Kelly who fought Naseem [Hamed] and of course Tyson."
On how good he was in that unpaid stage:
"I would've classed myself as a limited fighter who was a willing gunfighter and who would step in with the top talent they had any time it was offered to me like four- and five- times Golden Gloves champions and light-middles, welters or super-middles; taking a half stone [7lbs] off in a half day or guys with ten pounds [weight] on me. All I wanted in that time was to get out of the South Bronx. That is why I overtrained so much and took every fight I could trying to get lucky.
"I used my professional fight purses on flights to England and unbeaten pro record to get signed up in the United Kingdom."
On whether the much-publicized animosity between himself and UK rival Nigel Benn was real or fabricated:
"How could I dislike Nigel let alone despise him when I didn't even know him to dislike him. [?] It was just the media playing it to increase their readership and viewership. I never once said I even disliked him. I didn't know him. It works like this: I never disliked anyone outside of boxing. So lets say I disliked Dan Sherry for the tactics he used in boxing, as a man outside of the ring nothing to do with boxing I don't mind him. I don't like him, I don't dislike him, I am indifferent
"At the time I disliked [Steve] Collins, but this was in the field of boxing, that's what he created or that's what he wanted. This is how he beat me, mentally if you can make someone dislike you then really you have taken their mind off the subject matter. The subject matter is to box, to box well, I took my mind off of what I was suppose to be doing and put it on to something else which was himself. He made me make it personal and I shouldn't have made it personal, I should have made it objective, which I had done with all the other fights I had won previously.
"These fighters that I have fought I don't mind them because I am no longer a boxer so I am indifferent to them, I don't know them. I don't like them or dislike them because I don't know them, I respect them but I am indifferent to them as personalities because I don't know their personalities."
His first impressions of Benn:
"He tried to intimidate me in Cafe Royal prior to our 1990 fight, with verbal abuse. He always tried to beat his opponents before the fight had even started. I beat him, but he's still the most terrifying man I've come across.
"I watched him come up the ranks in 1987 when everyone said he was some invincible destroyer but I concluded that I would beat him. As awesome a puncher as he undoubtedly was, I had conviction I would win if I ever got the fight."
On why fights with Toney and Jones Jr. never came to fruition (and what would happen if they had!):
"The truth is those fights didn't happen in my prime because I didn't know if I would beat them. Maybe I would've, but I didn't have enough conviction that I would and so the fights didn't happen. In truth, the one thing I feared was not to be carried out but to be made to be second best, to be seen as a lesser man than the other man. That is when I was on the crest of a wave with no defeats.
"When my attitude changed when I made my comeback, I came back for respect and would've fought Roy Jones and James Toney because I had nothing to lose and respect to gain. I had done my winning and needed to take my beatings. They didn't want to know so I got my respect against Joe Calzaghe on little notice and against Carl Thompson two weights up.
"I would've probably lost on points to these men if the fights occurred, being likely highly competitive fights where they would start out as close chess games and evolve into vicious standoffs, I would suspect. May be I would've knocked out Roy Jones, who knows. I had a world class right. I'm too gentleman to suggest so.
"You can never say I dodged these men though, because they were never mandatory contender. If they had been ranked #1 I would've fought them."
On what is the best age for youngsters to begin boxing:
"Quite simply the earlier the better. These are complex skills that take years and years to learn, years to mould and years to add. Naseem Hamed started at age 7 and made 15 defences of the world championship. Audley Harrison started at age 19 and has yet to win the world championship despite being well into his 30s when his boxing career should've ended long ago.
"People who suggest that if you start too young, you get sick off it quicker and that that's what happened to Naseem is nonsensical. Naseem didn't leave boxing because he was sick of it, he just ran in to the fact that it is very hard being on the wrong end of the punches, because he never really was. So sick of it, it's not that you are sick of it, it's whether you have the integrity to see your course through and your course isn't just what they say at the beginning or what they say during it is what they say at the end. You have got to finish like you started, strong whether you are winning or losing.
"I started at age 16, which is late. Before 16 is better."
His best training tip for young fighters:
"Sparring is the best training, the more the better. It couldn't be simpler. The roadwork will build your heart and lung muscles but can't prepare you for the heat of the action in the ring. The bag work is good for resistance but a heavy bag does not hit back at you!
"It's no good training hard and not sparring, and it's no good training hard, sparring hard and partying hard. You musn't drink, smoke or do drugs. In boxing, vice is weakness and lonely is strength."
His favorite fighters of today:
"On the current scene, I follow the careers of Floyd Mayweather Jnr, Amir Khan and David Haye with fascination. I am looking for Mayweather to fight more often, come unstuck and then show whatever mettle he does have. Everyone loses. I am looking for David Haye to come back and set the record straight. And I am looking for Amir Khan to go on to achieve greatness which I believe he can.
"I look forward to the two big fights coming up next, involving Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio."
His predictions of 'pound-for-pound' stars Mayweather and Pacquaio's upcoming fights with Victor Ortiz and Juan Manuel Marquez respectively:
"I would expect them both [Mayweather and Pacquaio] to pick up victories but the law of averages does suggest that the more you win the more likely you are to lose. Mayweather, for instance, is undefeated. He has got to lose at some point, like Ali did, like Hagler did, like we all did."
Eubank's suggestion on how to overcome the Mayweather shoulder roll (!):
"People suggest you need to jab, jab, jab that slippery defensive style Mayweather has, but that is incorrect because he is waiting to catch the jab all night long with his right hand and counter. I would suggest the right uppercut is the punch to utilize against that particular stance that Mayweather likes to use, strategically thinking because it will force Mayweather to actually change the position of his right glove in order to block it and obviously then there is an opportunity to get in a left hook, whereas before the left hook would've been easily blocked of course because the right hand in that stance would be right in the right position to block a left hook.
"So I think right uppercut - left hook - right hand is the punch sequencing. But the thing with Mayweather is he is very sharp, I know for a fact he is petrified of losing because the more fear you have of losing the better your reflexes work, I know that. His reflexes are very sharp. You must be a very sharp shooter and strategic thinker to defeat him, or you must not pose any fear or threat to him in his opinion for his reflexes not to work like they should work."
And finally, his thoughts on the overdue fight we all want to see and whether Pacquaio could upset and end the long unbeaten streak of 'Money May':
"If he thinks strategically and fights strategically with his mind, yes Manny Pacquaio is a sharp shooter and may well be a sharp enough shooter to inflinct a defeat on Mayweather. But I have my doubts, I think Pacquaio is more of a fighter [than a thinker]."
previous article: Klitschko-Adamek and Gamboa-Ponce De Leon on HBO this Saturday
next article: Andre Berto and James Toney will be “On the Ropes Boxing Radio” - Now Available On-Demand!