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It’s “full steam ahead” for Chris Eubank Jnr and Conor Benn

Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn attend a press conference at Glaziers Hall on August 12, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images)
Benn and Eubank Jnr begin training for their huge showdown but, for one of them, a crucial component has gone missing, writes Declan Taylor

CHRIS EUBANK JNR’s training camp for the cross-generational clash with Conor Benn began amid uncertainty this week with his legendary dad Chris Snr still “missing”.

Eubank Jnr and Benn, whose fathers Chris and Nigel created British boxing’s greatest ever rivalry across two brutal fights during the 1990s, will meet at the O2 Arena on October 8 after agreeing a complex deal following weeks of negotiations.

The duo came face to face in central London on Friday last week and traded barbs at a kickoff press conference that simmered but never quite boiled over, despite their long-standing family feud. Tensions are guaranteed to rise, however, between now and October 8.

Neither of the fathers were in attendance, with Benn set to fly in from his Australia home this week, while Eubank Jnr revealed he has not heard from his dad since before the fight was even agreed. Indeed, the absence of Senior appears to have thrown a hefty spanner in the works of his preparation.

“As incredible as it sounds, I have not heard from my father since the fight has been announced,” Eubank explains.  

“I don’t know where he is, I don’t know what he’s doing and I don’t know if he wants to be involved in the build-up. I don’t know if he wants to be in my corner. He hasn’t reached out to me and I can’t get hold of him. But, he will resurface if and when he’s ready.”

Junior also revealed that his father, a WBO belt-holder at both middleweight and super-middleweight, had urged him not to agree to this fight yet.

“We haven’t had a falling out, but he didn’t want me to take the fight,” Junior adds. “He wanted me to wait until next year. He said ‘get a few more wins under your belt, let him do the same, build the rivalry and market the fight for longer’.

“This is a very quick turnaround; we’ve only got two months. He wanted us to have it in a football stadium in the summer of next year.

“That was his advice and obviously I didn’t take it. The reason I didn’t take it is because I’m living in the moment and the opportunity that is in front of me, I wasn’t willing to risk it not happening in a year’s time. I wasn’t willing to risk this fight, it’s too big and too important.

“The last time I spoke to him was when he told me not to take it. That was a couple of days before the fight was announced.

“Now I don’t know what he wants to do and it’s incredible to think that, because early on in my career I couldn’t get him away from me – interviews, press conferences, even in fights he was getting into the ring in between rounds. He would be looking at me and looking at the crowd and I was like ‘Hey, this is my fight!’

“But now in the biggest fight of my career, he’s missing. What is going on? How does that happen? I don’t know.”

Since Covid hit in March 2020, Eubank Jnr, 32-2 (23), has spent his time training under Roy Jones Jnr at his farm in Pensacola, Florida. Indeed, Jones Jr has been his trainer for his past three fights and has helped steer him to a trio of victories, against Marcus Morrison, Wanik Awdijan and Liam Williams.

That alliance had been expected to continue for this showdown with Benn, but Eubank says he would rather employ his dad as head trainer for this fight. But, given the lack of correspondence with Senior, Eubank Jnr – who will begin training with long-time coach Ronnie Davies – may end up calling Jones in after all.

“Roy being involved is dependent on my old man,” says Eubank, who kicked off his eight-week training camp on Monday.

“I can’t have both of them. They are two huge personalities and very different personalities, especially when it comes to the boxing advice. I could never have Roy Jones and Chris Eubank Snr both saying stuff to me in the corner. That would be two completely different languages, and I have to pick one.

“For this fight, I would pick my old man. I’ve told Roy I want him with me for the rest of my career, but for this one fight, yes, if my dad wants to be there, then I want him with me.

“I’ve told my dad I want him to be my lead trainer for this fight. Come on, imagine my old man in the corner, Nigel Benn in his corner. It’s unheard of and impossible to imagine. But it’s here and it can happen.”

Eubank Jnr, who has boxed as high as super-middleweight during his career, has agreed to drop down to 157lbs to make this clash with Benn, who is a welterweight. And he upped the stakes of the clash by vowing to retire altogether if he is beaten by the smaller man.

“If I lose, I am finished,” Eubank adds. “I’d have to pack it in. I would have to retire.

“My goal is still to win a world title at middleweight and I cannot do that if I lose. On the other hand, if I win, I will get no credit, for being too big. It’s lose-lose and all the pressure is on me, I have it all to lose.

“He is in a great position. He will make an absurd amount of money, it’s a great business move on his part. He’s taking a shot at greatness. I respect that, but I am going to liquidate him.”

On the weight, Eubank added: “I have never been at this weight since I was 18, It will be tough and very painful and it will kill me to make it.

“The restrictions are fair, because he is coming up, but I won’t be 100 per cent.  I can’t be when I have to get down and not rehydrate fully.

“If I am 100 per cent it is a public execution. I have to be at a disadvantage to make the fight fair, so that is what we have done. I will be at 60 per cent, but that will be enough.”

After Eubank Snr stopped Benn in their 1990 classic in Birmingham and then drew the rematch at Old Trafford three years later, one family heads into the showdown undefeated. But Benn said: “I will settle the score.

“We both walked the same road and I respect all fighters, but we settle the family business in there. The last fight was a draw and now I set the score straight. I believe I want it more, but it ain’t my job to worry about him.

“This fight makes sense for now, a welterweight world title is the goal, but this a fantasy fight for the public.

“We were far apart in weight at the start of my career, but he was still always mentioned, even before my debut, and the stars have aligned for October 8.

“I treat every fight as a world title fight, and it’s the same for this. If I can raise the bar, I will, but I do it every time anyway.

“I am young and hungry and motivated for anyone. Is there more pressure from the public? Yes, but he will feel that as well.

“It’s full steam ahead.”

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