Chris Eubank Jr has revealed that his father was opposed to him facing Conor Benn on October 8 and has not spoken to him since the fight was confirmed.
Eubank Jr and Benn went head-to-head at a press conference on Friday to announce their clash at London’s O2 Arena, which continues the family feud that saw their famous fathers – Chris Sr and Nigel – clash in two memorable fights in the 1990s.
Neither of the fathers was at the press conference, but while Nigel is expected to fly in from his home in Australia, Chris Sr is not answering his son’s calls.
There was a disagreement between father and son about whether to take the fight now. And while Chris Sr believed it would be better to wait a year to build up the fight, his son was not willing to take the risk of losing out on the big payday.
“My old man has gone MIA, missing in action,” Eubank Jr said. “I haven’t seen or heard from him in a few days since the fight was announced, which is shocking. I don’t know where he is or what he is doing, but I can’t get hold of him.
“I know that he wanted me to wait. He said the fight would be bigger if you wait another year – ‘both get a few more wins, build the fight, build the rivalry and then get it on in a football stadium next year, with more money, more exposure’.
“Because this fight did kind of come out of leftfield. I wouldn’t say it is a rush job or premature but it is a quick turnaround and his view was that we should wait and let it marinate.
“I wasn’t willing to let it wait. The opportunity is here now. Yeah, we might make more money if we wait another year, but other things can happen and I wasn’t willing to give up the opportunity.
“There have been times in my career where things have been presented to me and I have waited and they haven’t come to fruition. I wasn’t willing to take that risk with this fight so we are going to get it on in a couple of months, with or without my father’s blessing.
“I think he is going to come around to it eventually and hopefully he will be fully involved in it, we will have to wait and see.”
It seems the two fathers have done a complete turnaround from early in their sons’ careers. Eubank Sr was ever-present when Chris Jr turned professional, leading press conferences, giving interviews, working the corner and doing the negotiations.
“He was super emotionally-invested in all my fights, even in my press conferences, he was always front and centre,” Eubank Jr said. “In my corner on fight night he was always there and, on the flip side, Conor’s dad wasn’t. Funny to see how the roles are reversed now, Conor’s dad is fully up for it and wants to be involved.”
Many see the fight on October 8 – which will be live on DAZN PPV in the UK – as a direct follow-up to the two clashes between the fathers. Eubank won their first fight in 1990 in Birmingham, claiming his WBO middleweight title.
Three years later, they fought to a draw at Old Trafford, Manchester, in front of 45,000 fans in a world super-middleweight title unification fight. The third fight did not happen, although Benn always wanted it even into his Fifties.
Many believe that Eubank and Benn are just like their fathers.
“Of course, you obtain the traits of your father, most sons do,” Eubank Jr said. “A lot of people say I look like my old man and I talk like him, I don’t think I fight like him. But I can where Conor has the same type of spirit and the same style as his dad from what I can see.
“But we are very, very similar to our fathers and that makes for a great build-up to a great fight, as you saw 30 years ago.”
There is no sign yet of the genuine spite their fathers seemed to have for each other, though.
“It is different in the sense that my father targeted Benn because he was the world champion at his weight,” Chris Jr said. “Me and Conor have not been campaigning at the same weight, so the rivalry hasn’t been there over the years. We haven’t been competing in the same space.
“But now he is at a level where he is growing into himself, his is on a roll, he has got a bunch of knockouts and has the hype train going and he sees me as, I don’t know, a fading fighter, somebody whose best days are behind him, who he thinks he can now capitalize on and make his name off, avenging his father’s loss and stepping out of his shadow by beating Chris Eubank Jr.
“It is a tall task he has in front of him. He thinks he can pull it off, I think he is delusional. But hey, I’ve been called delusional my whole career. None of that matters, all that matters is what happens when that bell goes.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.