Feature | Feb 12 2018

What happened when Groves sparred Eubank? Eubank Sr tries to explain

Chris Eubank Sr delivers unmissable account on the 'spirit' and 'magic' behind Chris Eubank Jr
Chris Eubank
chris-eubank  |  Mark Robinson/Poxon Sports

ON Friday, February 2, Boxing News went to visit the Eubanks at the gym in Hove, where Chris Eubank Jr has been preparing to fight George Groves. Much of what happened is described in the forthcoming issue, but below are the sections of the interview with Eubank Sr which didn’t make the final cut. Here he talks about why Junior sparred George Groves and James DeGale in the first place, what he got out of it, and delivers fascinating insight into the journey his son has been on.

You were there when Junior sparred George Groves. Is there anything in Groves to fear?
First of all you have to understand that I engineered these sparring sessions to happen because if you can beat them in sparring, you can beat them in a real fight. The only difference is, there is no decision at the end of the sparring session. These trainers who haven’t lived the life of a fighter, how can they know that? You see, when I came over here in 1988, I set about sparring with all the guys. I sparred with Rod Douglas and he tore me to pieces because he was fighting maybe three or four days after the sparring session. He tore me to pieces, and I knew how good he was, because I knew how good I was, I was determined. I may not have had the skill at that time but I grew to have.
Johnny Melfah, I knew I was going to fight him in the future so it made sense for us to both know who was the boss. That is using your intelligence, in this world of boxing.

Chris Eubank
At the time, whenever I could find a sparring partner who was in the Top 10 or 20, I would spar them. It made sense to me and so why wouldn’t I use that same method with my son? That is why I had him sparring with George.
I have heard them say ‘I needed him so I paid him to come.’ Well, if I was a trainer who wasn’t experienced like many inexperienced trainers – ‘Oh no, we can’t spar with him because we might fight them in future’ – I wouldn’t understand that it’s what you must do.
In a profound way, you become knowledgeable about what you can do. The truth is, when you know you can beat somebody, you can. It’s as simple as that.
So when I engineered his sparring with James DeGale, for instance, I said to Junior, ‘I’m very surprised they’re allowing this to happen, but they don’t know what I know. Do not think you will get a second chance so make sure you beat him, and make sure he knows that you have beaten him. You will not get a second chance.’ And that’s exactly what happened.
After that sparring session I said [to Junior], ‘You got him?’ He said, ‘Yes, I got him.’
So am I worried about George Groves? No. Why? Because I know. I’m not guesstimating here. Beat the fighter only once, even three, four years before the real fight happens, and that person knows. And you know.
It is a profound thing when you spar a man or fight a man. You are very close to them, you know about their strengths, if they wince, if they will be intimidated when you jab, if you feint and attack. You see this. You feel this. What these trainers are missing is this: They’re looking at the physical aspect, and at gameplays. No. I’m not looking at any of that. I’m looking at one thing, and one thing only. Spirit. And that’s what separates Junior from the rest of them.