Chris Eubank Jr. doesn’t minimize what’s at stake.
The current middleweight contender does not view losing as an option in his upcoming clash with countryman and fellow second-generation boxer Conor Benn. The two will collide in a bout at a maximum weight limit of 157 pounds atop an October 8 DAZN Pay-Per-View from The O2 in London, marking the third overall entry in their family history.
The next generation clash comes 29 years almost to the day of the October 1993 rematch between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Sr., with their WBC/WBO super middleweight unification bout ending in a draw. The first meeting saw Eubank Sr. earn a ninth-round knockout of the elder Benn in November 1990 to win the WBO middleweight title.
The younger Eubank feels obligated to ensure that his family remains unbeaten in this series.
“It’s a huge amount of pressure on me for this fight, absolutely,” Eubank admitted during a recent joint appearance with Benn on Good Morning Britain to promote their upcoming and anticipated showdown. “I’ve said it before and it’s the first time I’ve said it throughout my career. If I lose this fight, I retire. I love this sport, I love being a boxer. I don’t want it to end.”
Eubank (32-2, 23KOs) has won six straight since a points loss to George Groves in their February 2018 WBA super middleweight title fight during the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament. The 33-year-old from Brighton has claimed his last four wins since dropping back down to middleweight, where he is at his physical best.
There was concern about his dropping down to 157, more than a pound than his lowest weight in eleven years as a pro. Benn (21-0, 14KOs) is moving up ten pounds from welterweight, where he is already undersized but also considered to be playing with house money in this fight. The 26-year-old from Ilford, Essex is a +185 underdog according to BetMGM.
The same sportsbook lists Eubank as a -225 favorite to prevail in the well-publicized event that has drawn national mainstream attention from the moment the fight was confirmed earlier this summer.
Eubank’s natural size advantage—even in dropping down to a career-lightest weight—is obviously a key factor, although there is still question as to whether he has lived up to his full potential. He boasts notable wins over former titlists Arthur Abraham and countryman James DeGale, though both coming at the end of their respective careers. There are significant title fights he has left on the table, though he has shown a stronger commitment to the sport in recent years, including a twelve-round win over former title challenger Liam Williams this past February 5 in Cardiff.
By his own admission, there is a lot more that Eubank wants—and needs—to accomplish, though time isn’t exactly on his side. His more famous fighting father was a two-division champ who came dangerously close to winning a cruiserweight title as well before calling it a career in 1997 at 32 years of age. Eubank Sr. has trained his son for most of his career but is opposed to the weight conditions and will not be in his corner for this fight, one which the younger Eubank believes is make-or-break as he is still in search of a career-defining win.
“Losing to Conor Benn at this stage of my career means I’m not the fighter I thought I was or that I think I am,” admits Eubank Jr. “I want to challenge for world titles in the next six to twelve months. I can’t do that with a loss to Conor Benn. My father retired at 32. I’m 33 years old.
“This is an extremely important fight. There’s a lot of pressure on me to not only win but to uphold the name, the family legacy that we’ve created. Right now, the Eubank name is in front of the Benn name in the history books. I’m going to keep it that way.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox