CAN ROY JONES JR. GIVE CHRIS EUBANK JR. THE BOOST HE NEEDS TO BECOME #1?
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As Chris Eubank Jr. enters his 30s he might’ve finally found the right trainer to take his career to the next level. Eubank has relied on a number of different trainers over the years, including his father, and for a brief period, he insisted on being his own trainer. While he’s currently ranked 4th among active Middleweights by BoxRec, but his record has been questioned in the past for lacking world-class boxers.
The two losses on his 29-2 record came to Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves, but he was not the same boxer in those two fights. Against Saunders in 2014, Eubank was one dimensional and relied solely on his physical abilities, while being far from impressive technically. Possibly due to it being his first title-fight, Eubank was incredibly cautious early on and did little to trouble Saunders, who was able to control the pace and claim the early rounds with ease. Eubank had always been a pressure fighter, so it was odd not seeing him use his power and speed to swarm Saunders from the start. By the second half of the fight, he had relaxed and started to push the pace, but he was brawling and inaccurate. The far more technical Saunders was able to manage his aggression and saw the fight out on his early lead.
Against Groves in 2018, Eubank had shown improvement but was still made to look amateurish. He was slightly more controlled, threw fewer looping overhands and wild hooks, but still had big issues finding openings against the far more skilled Groves. Eubank was still far from technically sound but looked miles better than he had against Saunders. Had he faced Saunders again that night he might have won, but as expected, Groves was able to deal with him very easily and controlled him with his jab the entire night. While he lost both those fights, the 4 years in between saw him make some changes to his boxing.
Fast forward to 2019 and Eubank had made more technical improvement in one year than he had between Saunders and Groves. Whether it was his age giving him some clarity, or a new trainer getting through to him, it looks like Eubank has been making a concerted effort to become a boxer and not just a fighter. A fighter’s physical gifts and effort have never been enough to make up for poor boxing skills at the top level. Since losing to Groves, it looks like Eubank Jr has realized that.
Training in Pensacola
After getting stuck in the U.S in February while cornering for his friend, Super-Middleweight Kevin Newman II, Eubank had a chance encounter with Roy Jones Jr. which developed into a professional arrangement. With Jones regarded by many as possibly the best boxer of all time, could he possess the knowledge and ability to fill the gaps in Eubank Jr’s game?
Since his retirement, Jones Jr. has been training boxers at his private gym in Pensacola, Florida. Eubank has been with him continuously for the past three months, focusing on his pure boxing skills. Eubank’s Instagram shows videos of Jones leading footwork and head movement sessions. Eubank has done interviews with Sky Sports in which he details how the level of boxing insight he’s been given access to has been amazing to him. Most importantly, however, Eubank seems to have reached the point in his career when he’s open to training harder than ever on the finesse side of boxing.
He has always had enough strength and speed to do damage but his combos have lacked the crispness of Canelo or Golovkin. He has a great chin but his journeyman head movement puts that chin to the test unnecessarily. Despite being able to move quickly on his feet, his footwork has shown clumsiness and he tends to plod forward and backward predictably. These are things that Jones Jr. will be addressing in the gym and it will be extremely interesting to see what Eubank looks like in the ring once lockdown is over.
Eubank told Sky Sports – “I’m actually upset that I haven’t met this man early on in my career…The training, the way we got on and everything we’ve been doing has been amazing. Definitely one of the best decisions that I’ve made in my career to come train with him. Roy and I are going to be working together for years.”
As Eubank is now, he sits with Andrade, Charlo, Golovkin and Alvarez at the top of the Middleweight crop.
While he won’t have transformed his career completely during the lockdown, if this is only the beginning of their collaboration, a lot more could be made of Eubank before he retires and Roy Jones Jr could be the man to do it.