The long-awaited return of Benn vs Eubank is nearly upon us. After their fathers captivated a nation in the 1990s, Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr now aim to finish what they started. This hotly-anticipated catchweight clash has many moving parts. Here’s four talking points ahead of the big O2 Arena headliner.
Conor And Chris Jr Are Not Their Fathers
This is obvious but bears repeating. The 21 rounds of eye-watering violence that Nigel and Chris Sr shared in the 90s is unlikely to be repeated by anyone in a UK ring, never mind their sons. There is a reason Benn-Eubank is still talked about as the defining British boxing rivalry three decades on.
Fans going into this bout expecting the junior members of the Benn and Eubank families to pick up where their illustrious fathers left off are in for a shock. Despite attempts at engineered animosity, this bout lacks the genuine enmity and spite of those original encounters.
Neither man can yet claim to have reached the heights of their parents. Nigel won his first world title aged 26, while his son Conor is still viewed as a young prospect at the same age. Meanwhile, Eubank Sr retired as a two-weight world champion at the age of 32, a year younger than his offspring is currently.
This may seem like an evisceration of this fight but it’s not supposed to. It is merely an illustration of the fact Nigel and Chris Sr were truly special athletes and it is not fair to expect their sons to emulate them.
Catchweight If You Can
The weight issue has defined the build-up to this fight. Eubank is coming down from middleweight with Benn moving up two weight divisions from welterweight to make 157lbs. It is the sort of bizarre situation that underlines the fact this fight would not be taking place were it not for the surnames of those involved. Both are putting their necks on the line, at their lowest-ever and highest-ever weights respectively, to make this one happen.
It is a state of affairs that greatly concerns Eubank Sr. He has campaigned heavily to get the fight called off, worrying about his son’s health. When that didn’t work, the former world champion asked fans to boycott the event. Eubank Jr has scaled as high as 168lbs in the past, so his worries are not completely unfounded. But given Benn usually weighs in at 147lbs, while Eubank Jr has fought at 160lbs in recent years, you could argue the former is taking the bigger risk.
Benn Steps Up In Class
‘The Destroyer’ has earned some criticism recently for feasting on veterans rather than taking on more challenging fights. While his knockout wins over Chris Algieri and Chris van Heerden look good on a highlight reel, it is debatable how much merit there was in those wins. Algieri was a world champion eight years ago and is now 38. 35-year-old Van Heerden was a solid if unspectacular contender in his day but has been operating far below world class for a number of years.
Eubank Jr represents a far fresher opponent. ‘Next Gen’ still has designs on becoming a world champion and his size and strength will pose problems. Benn walks into a fight as an underdog for the first time ever. Has he listened to the criticism after feasting on yesterday’s men? Or was the pull of putting Benn vs Eubank on a marquee again just too much to resist? Either way, there’s no getting away from this being his toughest fight to date.
Eubank Jr Gambles With His Future
While there has been a lot of talk about the risk Benn is taking in moving up two weightclasses, outside of his own father there has been little talk of what Eubank Jr is wagering here. The heavily-favoured fighter, most expect his size and skills to be too much for the smaller Benn. Eubank Jr has touched upon it himself. He will get very little credit for beating Benn, with the “welterweight” tag sure to get thrown around in the aftermath.
While Eubank Jr has very little to gain, reputationally rather than financially, he does have everything to lose. A defeat to Benn would conclusively stamp out any talk of a world title fight for him. A stoppage defeat might well stop his career in its tracks. Eubank Jr says he will call it a day if Benn beats him full stop, but an exciting or close fight would surely necessitate a rematch. After all, like so much of this promotion, it is what their dads did.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change