Eubank: Steve Collins couldn't carry my kitbag

By Lee Callan: Having caught up with former WBO middle and super-middle champion Chris Eubank again at Cheetahs Gym in his former hometown of Brighton, I got to ask him more questions about his career and thoughts on boxing in general.

Eubank has recently been appointed the national boxing coach of Angola and is currently training the Angolan Olympic Team, but cut a recent training camp in Cuba short to come to England and make arrangements for his son, Chris Eubank Jr., to turn professional.

He says that, as an amateur, he saw boxing as sport, but in the pro ranks it was more about securing finances.

"When you're an amateur, you see it as a sport," he told me. "I fought for belts, for trophies, for medals, for respect of peers and to go home to tell my mother that I won. I wanted to test myself against the best, I wanted those gym fights with Dennis Milton that I had.

"You turn professional because you need money. At that point, it's no longer a sport, it's a business. If it wasn't a business, professional boxing wouldn't exist."

Eubank feels there is a system for getting on in boxing, and his keys to success included taking authority of his own career path, becoming an allaround fighter and not taking remarks of fellow boxers personally.

"A professional boxer needs to realize that he's a director. Your manager is your manager, your promoter is your promoter, your trainer is your trainer. They're agents, they're staff. You're the director," he noted, before talking about more practical terms.

"If you don't punch correctly, you won't beat a fighter. If you can't fight going backwards, you won't beat a slugger. If you can't fight going forwards, you won't beat a dancer.

"Don't become a specialist."

He also felt it important to expect and know how to take it as well as give it, and have a unique boxing style.

"Learn how to absorb a punch, because you're never not going to be punched. Another thing is the unorthodox will beat the conventional 8 or 9 times in 10. So get away from the conventional and make the opponent think, because while he is thinking, you can punch him.

"The main thing is to be objective. You must see your opponent as an object, not a subject. The subjective spells failure. Objectivity will make you a champion.

"And the last thing I will say is stay away from southpaws, anyone 6ft or over or with an unbeaten record."

On the subject of his best opponents and hardest fights, it's little surprise that Nigel Benn and Michael Watson were the names mentioned, the great rivals of Eubank's of the early nineties.

"Michael Watson in Watson II was the most unbeatable," he declared. "Because he had the pace of a lightweight and the strength of a heavyweight."

Benn was praised mostly for ferocious punching. "Nigel Benn was the only fighter in the world who had 10 out of 10 for both power and aggression - Mike Tyson had 9.5 for each. So that was another almighty task.

"Benn in Benn II replaced the aggression with ducking, slipping, bobbing and weaving that only Pernell Whitaker did better out of the pound-for-pound ratings. It allowed him to defeat the pound-for-pound rated Gerald McClellan."

I got the impression Eubank felt his quality of opposition was overlooked when he murmured how "people tend not to acknowledge that, objectively, Sugar Boy Malinga was a future world champion, Lindell Holmes a former world champion, and Graciano Rocchigiani a future and former world champion. And, subjectively, Michael Watson and Tony Thornton only lost to the best pound-for-pound fighters around that time trying to become world champion," before adding, "Those five fighters were the tightest defensive technicians in the divisions."

In his 44th fight in 1995, Chris finally lost as a pro after nine and a half years unbeaten and a wild ride as world champion since '90. The man who conquered him was Ireland's Steve Collins and to this day Eubank feels he was cheated and beaten by a man not in his class as a fighter.

"We were two fighters in two different leagues," Eubank said of Collins. "In fact, we were leagues apart," he decided. "Steve Collins couldn't carry my kitbag! I lost because for the first time in my career I went out to hurt my opponent."

Eubank explained, "Steve was emotionally intelligent but in a combative way. He had no talent, no integrity - but he made me dislike him intensely.

"I was backwards in coming forwards in that 10th round (of the first fight) after I put him down, and because I had that mercy for him when he was down and got up wobbly, I no longer despised him, and because of that, if you watch the 11th round, I completely take him to school in that round, which cements the point."

Article posted on 04.08.2011

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