Chris Eubank Jr has been called many things and described in many different ways since turning professional in 2011. He is, to some, a superior athlete, a beast, a problem, a wrecking machine, a brawler, a danger, a force of nature, and a natural middleweight. But one term that isn’t usually applied to his name, at least in the context of what he does in the ring, is ‘intelligent’.
Ben Butler, however, a man who has sparred between 30 and 40 rounds with Eubank Jr ahead of the Brighton man’s fight with George Groves on Saturday (February 17), says intelligence is just one of the reasons why Eubank Jr will soon become WBA world super-middleweight champion.
“When sparring Eubank, you’re never in the safe zone,” says middleweight Butler, 5-0 in his own professional career. “He never takes it easy. He is there to better himself. He’s not going to take his foot off the pedal. He’s preparing to fight George Groves and he spars like he’s fighting George Groves. It’s intense. He’s very strong and his work rate is incredible. With Eubank, it’s not a case of getting hit once or twice, it’s that third, fourth, fifth or sixth time that’s devastating. It’s absolutely devastating.
“His work rate is impeccable. His fitness is out of this world. Also, his boxing IQ is very underrated. He’s so clever in there. He will let you think you are getting on top, doing well, and then immediately take back control. It’s then you realise he was just setting you up for something. There have been times when we’ve been having a good spar and I’ve been competing with him, catching him with shots and thinking I’m doing well, but then all of a sudden a button is pressed and he goes into what I can only call Eubank Mode.”
Groves, of course, a seasoned campaigner who has fought many elite super-middleweights, is aware of Eubank Mode and tasted it firsthand, in fact, when sparring Junior countless times from 2011 onwards. He knows what to expect, therefore, and believes he possesses the tools to turn off Eubank Mode and thus stifle his work-rate and combinations.
Yet Butler disagrees. In fact, he feels ‘The Saint’ is on a hiding to nothing when the pair meet at the Manchester Arena.
“People see it as a close fight, but I don’t,” he says. “It’s obvious to me. Hands down, Eubank will win this fight. I’ve no doubt whatsoever about that. He’s better in every aspect.
“Groves fought (Carl) Froch and Froch is a very wide-open fighter who will take some shots to get off his own. And Groves couldn’t beat him. He got stopped by him and then knocked out by him.
“I look at Eubank and I don’t see how Groves copes with his work-rate and his pressure and all the shots he is going to land on him. You can say you are going to do this and do that beforehand, but when you’re in there with Eubank it’s a different story.
“I can see it being stopped in the later rounds. Maybe the eighth or ninth round. Groves just won’t be able to deal with Eubank’s incredible work rate.”