By John J. Raspanti
Words are cheap. Actions speak louder. Reality sometimes bites.
Chris Eubank Jr. found this out the hard way last Saturday night at the Manchester Arena in London, England. In the biggest fight of his career, Eubank came up short against George Groves, losing his worthless IBO title, but more importantly, the respect of many in the boxing community.
Eubank had talked the talk leading up to his bout with Groves. He said he would send his opponent into retirement, that the fight would be no contest. Many fighters yack this way. It’s part of the game, but when the time comes, the boxer must perform.
Adrien Broner knows this. He’s called himself the best boxer in the world many times. Nothing fazed him.
“It don’t matter what competition it is. I make it all look easy,” said Broner a few years ago.
Broner, has won a few titles, but he’s also lost three fights in the last four years. He’s not what he says he was. If anything, he’s a disappointment. That’s the danger of building yourself up too much. Sometimes it’s all an act, but in Eubank’s case, he seemed to believe his own publicity. He might have even been writing it. He sneered and smirked—displaying an arrogance that belied his talent.
Groves could see what a lot of experts couldn’t. Namely, that Eubank was a performer, and over-hyped.
Perhaps Groves understood Eubank. A few years ago, he was the conceited kid who got on people’s nerves. During a press conference announcing his fight with Carl Froch, Groves amused himself with a Rubik’s cube. A lot of boxing fans wanted to see Froch humble Groves. He did. Twice. Groves has admitted that the losses shook him to his core. He was down and took a break from boxing to rethink his future. He hired and fired a trainer. Lost another fight, but then Groves seemed to grasp what was going on. Namely that he needed to take a step back. He did, hired Sean McGuigan to train him, and went about rebuilding his career. He hasn’t looked back since.
Eubank has to do the same thing. He needs people around him to be honest. Video released after his loss to Groves show him groping for answers.
“How did it look?” he asks. “I thought I did enough in the later rounds to nick it but I don’t know how it looked.”
His father, former two-division champion Chris Eubank Sr.,seemed reluctant to answer him.
“Let’s drop that subject,” said Eubank Sr.
“Be real. If you guys think he won, then you think he won,” Eubank Jr. replied.
“The decision was the right decision,” his father replies bluntly. That should have been it, but Junior wants more. He turns to a so-called friend who opines "It was a close fight.”
No. The fight wasn’t that close. Groves won going away, even fighting with a dislocated shoulder in the last round.
Eubank has received loads of advice since his second career loss.
James DeGale, Tony Bellew, and Naseem Hamed were highly critical of Eubank. Hamed suggested that Eubank should retire because he’s not good enough to compete at the top level. Silly. Eubank does have some talent. He can fight. It’s his head that’s the problem.
First off he needs a trainer. Eubank has often bragged about training himself. His lack of preparation showed Saturday night. Bellow, a former cruiserweight champion, who fights former heavyweight champion David Haye in a few months, urged Eubank to reconsider his thinking in this regard.
"It was clear that Eubank was getting no advice in the corner," said Bellew. "I don’t see Eubank progressing unless he changes things up dramatically.”
Eubank had his father and trainer Ronnie Shields in his corner Saturday night. Some of the advice he received was solid. He didn’t listen. He fought like a guy who figured all he’d have to do is touch Groves with a blow, and Groves would collapse like a ton of bricks.
Groves didn’t collapse. He fought back. He had a game plan and stuck to it. He knew exactly what he was doing. Eubank didn’t. He was lost, and it showed. He didn’t have a "plan b."
Eubank is only 28. As I said, he does have talent. He’s a superior athlete. But there’s more to boxing than pure athleticism. He can learn from his loss to Groves.
But will he? Twenty-four hours after leaving the ring a bloody mess, Eubank posted a video of himself back in training. Alone of course. Not good. Learning from your mistakes can be hard, and in Eubanks case, painful. But not learning is worse.
Eubank should take this famous quote from Winston Churchill to heart.
“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”