In the last six months, two British boxers have made their United States debut to mixed results and reviews.
First, Anthony Joshua suffered the upset of the century when he lost his heavyweight titles to Andy Ruiz in June at Madison Square Garden in New York. In November, WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders delivered an even performance in which he was down on one judge’s card in the 11th round before knocking out unheralded contender Marcelo Esteban Coceres at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Chris Eubank Jr. (28-2, 21 KOs), who has been a U.K. mainstay throughout his eight-year, 30-fight career, wants to break out of the recent rut of British fighters turning in humdrum performances when he takes on Matt Korobov (28-2-1, 14 KOs) on Dec. 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The fight will serve as Showtime’s co-main event to the Jermall Charlo versus Dennis Hogan fight.
“A lot of British fighters have come to the U.S., and they haven’t come to do what they wanted to do with their performances,” Eubank Jr. told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “They haven’t made the impact they wanted to make. That is not going to be me, that’s for sure. I will break that curse, if you want to call it that. I’m going to go out there and make a statement. I will introduce myself to the American public in a very big way.”
Although Eubank Jr., who suffered his first career loss to Saunders in 2014, has never fought in America, he’s no stranger to the states. His first 10 amateur fights were held in Nevada, a state where he went on to win Golden Gloves.
For his fight against Korobov, the IBO super middleweight titlist Eubank Jr. moved camp back to Las Vegas under the auspices of trainer Nate Vazquez.
“I’m very happy with my situation in Las Vegas, and my first professional training camp out here at Floyd Mayweather’s gym. I’m coming down to 160, and this is by far one of the best training camps I’ve had in my career,” said Eubank Jr.
“Training in Las Vegas versus training in my hometown of Brighton is a night-and-day difference. It’s two completely different environments and atmospheres. The gyms are different, the people are different. The British boxing scene is a lot more laid back. In Vegas, people are shouting and screaming during sparring — especially at Floyd’s. It’s a different experience, but it’s worked out pretty well for me.”
Eubank Jr. said Mayweather witnessed a recent sparring session in its entirety and advised him with tips on how to use his jab, hand speed, combination punching and footwork better.
“He liked what he was seeing, and offered a few tips on how to exploit the weaknesses of my sparring partners,” said Eubank Jr.
In addition to Mayweather, Eubank Jr. still relies on the tutelage of his father Chris Eubank Sr., the former two-division champion. Eubank Sr. fought his first five career fights in the U.S. but never returned as he etched his boxing legacy in England. Eubank Jr. wants to now further his own name in the U.S.
“I’ve been in the pro game for eight years now, and I know what I need to do,” said Eubank Jr. “I’m comfortable with my weight, training and my daily routine. This is what I love to do. This is my passion; this is my life. I’m finally in a position where I can show myself outside of just a U.K. audience.”
Standing in Eubank Jr.’s path for notoriety will be the crafty 36-year-old Korobov, who has over 300 amateur fights compared to the 26 of Eubank Jr.
“He’s much more experienced than me. He’s a slick, skillful southpaw. It’s not going to be an easy night of work.,” said Eubank Jr. “There are a lot of tricks he will employ, but watching his fights, I know how to exploit his weaknesses and press him out and outbox him. I want to stop him, and that is definitely the goal. I do not see this fight going 12 rounds, and I want to make a statement.”