CHRIS EUBANK was able to comfortably outpoint the Commonwealth super-middleweight champion Henry Wharton in defending his WBO world super middleweight title on December 10 1994, rediscovering the type of form that had seen him dethrone WBO world middleweight champion Nigel Benn four years previously. Claude Abrams, for Boxing News, recalled a night in which ‘‘Eubank had achieved more than he had done in the previous three years’’.
EUBANK had been very active in the months leading up to the Wharton contest, but the man nicknamed ‘Simply the Best’ had looked far from it in recent times – notably in scraping through to points decision victories over Dan Schommer in October and the limited Mauricio Amaral in July.
WHARTON, a dangerous puncher to the head and body, had registered two consecutive knockout wins since suffering his sole career defeat at the hands of Eubank’s rival Nigel Benn whilst challenging for the latter’s WBC world super middleweight title. Wharton entered the bout with every confidence in his ability to dethrone Eubank and felt that ‘‘his style was made for beating him’’, but this proved not to be the case.
BEFORE the action got under way, the estimate sell-out crowd of slightly over 9,000 at the G-Mex Centre in Manchester were treated to a bizarre and extravagant ring entrance from the champion. Abrams recalled Eubank ‘‘rising on a distant platform until he was near the ceiling of the arena overlooking the crowd, fireworks sparkling underneath to give the impression he was in some kind of rocket, as Wharton tried to keep warm in the ring.’’ Eubank’s work inside the ring that night, nonetheless, was focused, aggressive and masterful.
THE 28-year-old Eubank started quickly with impressive body-punching early on and by the forth session was making Wharton miss, whilst finding the challenger an easy target for his own sharp punching. Eubank showed an eagerness to close the show in the fourth, but the bravery and determination of Wharton saw him successfully survive the onslaught before hooking his way back into contention.
TO his credit, Wharton continued to respond. The Yorkshire man had success in the fifth and the fighters exchanged solid blows in the sixth, despite the seemingly harder punches coming from the champion.
EUBANK began to take over in rounds seven and eight ahead of a ninth in which he once again looked to finish the job, thumping in a succession of lefts and rights which left Wharton leaning on the ropes. Wharton showed terrific bravery and determination to survive, especially with a left eye injury which was beginning to worsen, as Eubank unsuccessfully beckoned in referee Steve Smoger to bring a halt to proceedings.
BY the eleventh the damage to Wharton’s eye was horrific and worsening as Eubank continued to nail the injury with his jab. By this point, Eubank was on cruise control and coasting to victory, much to the displeasure of the crowd who had, more than once, felt a stoppage was nearing.
BOB Mee’s prediction for Boxing News that ‘‘stylistically, Wharton should suit Eubank’’ was entirely vindicated by the champion’s comfortable night’s work, so much so that Eubank raised his arms in twelfth knowing he had already done enough to win the fight. The three scoring judges at ringside agreed and Eubank was declared the winner by unanimous decision, with English judge Roy Francis scoring the fight 118-112, Arizona official Gerald Smoltz scoring it 116-112 and Midlands judge Paul Thomas seeing the fight 115-113, all in favour of the champion.
WHARTON would challenge for a world title for a third and final time in 1997, losing a majority decision to then-unbeaten Robin Reid, before retiring two fights later with a 27 – 3 (20) ledger. Wharton, who was never stopped and was only defeated in world championship contests, is considered by many to be one of the best super-middleweights never to win a world title. Eubank, on the other hand, would lose his WBO world title via unanimous decision in his next contest in an absorbing encounter with Steve Collins. After defeat to Collins, Eubank would win four and lose four (all four defeats in world title challenges, including a rematch with Collins) before retiring with a record of 45 – 5 (23) having contributed enormously to the golden era of British super middleweights.