Remembering A Classic: Steve Collins vs Chris Eubank 1
The manic tenacity and mind games of ‘The Celtic Warrior’ against the teak tough, bizarre bravado of ‘Simply the Best’.
Today I head up to the famous Celtic Warrior Boxing gym in Dublin, owned by legendary Irish fighter Steve Collins’ brother, Paschal.
As I make my way up from Cork, I can’t help but looking up the legendary Steve Collins vs Chris Eubank 1 fight back in 1995 in Millstreet, Co.Cork. What a fight, what a night.
The atmosphere in the rural outskirts of Cork that night was unbelievable – an almost palpable build up, tension and electricity surrounded the event.
I remember watching it through a television screen at seven years old, an instant love affair with the noble art was born.
The story line going into the fight was as compelling as they come, mind games, hypnotists, an undefeated record, passionate Irish fans and of course the WBO super middleweight championship of the world, all spicy pugilistic ingredients.
Eubank came into the fight undefeated and a big favourite, but it was the brilliance of the mental warfare of Collins that gave him the edge in my opinion.
He entered the ring with headphones on his head and closing his eyes in the pre-fight introductions, not seeming to acknowledge the English world champion whatsoever. Steve Collins, as crafty as a fox and one of the best planners ever.
The fight itself was fantastic to boot. A back and forth knock down tussle, at a ferocious tempo. But looking back on the night, for me it was the mind games aspect of the Collins performance that still really sticks out, twenty years on.
Even down to having hypnotist Tony Quinn in his corner on the night, everything about his mental assault on Eubank was pre-thought out and meticulously calculated – like a type of guerrilla warfare in the boxing ring. He had Eubank spooked from the start.
‘Simply the Best’ was visibly disconcerted by these psychological tactics in the run up, even threatening to pull out on the night as he believed he was fighting someone who had been “mechanically enhanced” and it was “new territory” for him.
Sports psychology was a relatively new field at the time to be fair and it could be argued Collins was one of the first high level boxers to employ a hypnotist to such emphatic effect in a big fight.
I’ve said it before on this website and other publications, but I’ll say it again, Steve Collins is one of the most underrated Irish sportsmen of all time in my opinion. A man who beat two of Britain’s best ever fighters in Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn, not just once, but twice each.
Stop for a minute and think to yourself how celebrated Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank are in the sweet science’s glorious history books (and rightly so) and then consider for one moment, the fact Steve Collins beat them both on two different occasions, over a total of four fights.
That fact alone makes him the best fighter Ireland has ever produced in my opinion.
Steve Collins vs Chris Eubank 1 still exhibits some of the best boxing mind games you’ll ever see to this day and a back and forth battle between two of the toughest boxers of their era.
The result – a classic. “Stevo, Stevo, Stevo”.
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