CHRIS EUBANK JR rarely gives much away. He refuses to reveal when he’s been hurt, if he’s tired. But he did divulge the last time he was battered in a boxing ring. It took place when he was still an amateur and he suffered this beating at the hands of none other than Erislandy Savon, the Cuban super-heavyweight who boxed Anthony Joshua at the London Olympics.
He had gone out to Cuba to train in their gym. “It’s like this abandoned warehouse, it’s crazy and that’s where they train every day,” he recalled.
“It was a savage beating,” Eubank admitted. “The story is that I went there before I turned pro. Out there they have a training regime where they do technical spars, which I have never done. I’ve always had it in mind that if you’re going to spar a man you try and emulate what a real fight’s going to be. So you go hard. That’s just how I’ve always been. They don’t do that. I went there and sparred the middleweight there at the time. He was expecting it to be technical spar and I went in. I tried to take his head off and I hurt him. So that didn’t go down well with the Cuban team and so I went back to the hotel, all smug and happy with myself. I didn’t know it was supposed to be a technical spar.”
He continued, “I went back the next day. You got the super-heavyweight there just waiting for me. They’re all speaking Spanish, I don’t know what they’re saying but looking back on it now, the head trainer, he was this and that and that, I’m pretty sure he was basically telling him to beat the crap out of me.”
“I thought alright the guy’s obviously twice my size, he’s just going to move about with me,” he added. “I’ve always sparred lighter guys and you don’t take the piss. They’re smaller than you, you work with them. But as soon as that round went, this guy was throwing fire, heat, beating the crap out of me. Knocked me out of the ring. Out of the ring. Fell through the ropes on to concrete because the gyms out there are not like the gyms here.
“Knocked me out of the ring in the second round. I got back in. Pins and needles all the way down my leg, couldn’t even feel my leg. I went did another round with him, did another round with him after that. That was kind of like my lesson. Don’t come here think you’re the big dog. A lot of guys getting knocked out the ring by a guy twice their size, when they’re outside of that ring, they’d think, you know what, maybe I’ll just go hit the bag now. For me it was a pride thing. They kept saying before the spar, three rounds, tres rounds, or whatever they were saying. I thought you know what I’m not letting this guy have the story that he made that English kid quit. So I got back in the ring, took my beating like a man.”
The incident has fuelled his confidence, even going into Saturday’s clash with George Groves years later. “That was the day I realised how badly I wanted to be a fighter. What I was willing to do. It was the day I really understood how solid my chin was. Because he didn’t knock me out,” he said.
“If a super-heavyweight can’t knock me out, this is why I don’t worry about Golovkin, George Groves, ‘oh they’re such big punchers,’ I don’t worry about that. I know the shots I can hold. So that’s where I get my confidence from.”