It’s been a tremendous, jam-packed past week for boxing fans around the world.
In the USA Terence Crawford was sensational against John Molina Jr further cementing his name as one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet, Abner Mares came out on top in a close fought split decision with Jesus Cuellar, while in the UK fans were treated to a huge night of action at the Manchester Arena in which Anthony Joshua successfully retained his IBF heavyweight crown against a seemingly uninspired Eric Molina and went on to announce his mega fight against former heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium in April – and breathe.
However, amidst all the big names, big fights and big reports one story which seems to have taken a back seat – perhaps with good reason – is the news that middleweight Chris Eubank Jr will be stepping up to Super Middleweight for his return and shall be challenging Renold Quinlan for the IBO Super Middleweight title.
Eubank made the announcement via his Facebook page this past Tuesday and while he does have a substantial online following of dedicated fans, the ‘Haters’ as he likes to call them were quick to come out in full force. It seems everyone and his uncle had something to say about every aspect of the young star’s decision.
You can find the original post and subsequent reactions here:
(Chris Eubank Jr next fight opponent choice hammered by fans)
For starters, the Chris Eubank Jr next fight opponent choice has been met with significant criticism, rather than the actual choice to move weight.
Despite holding an impressive second round KO over former world champ and all-round tough guy Daniel Geale, Quinlan is far from a recognisable, established name on the world stage and the general feeling is that if Eubank Jr (or Sr) is willing to throw away a shot at one of the best in the world in the form of Gennady Golovkin, why should he be so excited at the prospect of facing Quinlan?
For someone who claims to be one of the best fighters on the planet surely he should be facing someone closer to his apparent status?
It seems Eubank may have recognised this pitfall to his plans and attempted to save his own skin towards the end of the post stating: ‘I’m coming for any & every man that holds a middle or super-middle weight world title.’
I myself have never seen Quinlan in action. There’s every chance he could give Eubank one hell of a good fight but there’s no escaping the fact that, when compared to other names he could have probably secured, the Quinlan fight seems undeniably underwhelming.
Also, in a rather unusual turn of events for Eubank’s social media critics they haven’t just reserved their harsh words for the fighters. In fact, the very title that is on the line has come under verbal fire.
The pair will meet for the IBO super middleweight world title – a title which many comments suggest is not a legitimate world championship:
‘IBO is not a recognised version of the world title.’ ‘There are too many belts and the version you are fighting for can be bought on eBay.’
Considering the belt can’t defend itself, 48 hours later Eubank took it upon himself to offer his potential championship some justice in a facebook post highlighting some of the greats in history to have held a version of the IBO belt.
Again, you can find the original post here:
(Chris Eubank Jr next fight opponent choice slaughtered by fans)
I must say that I side with Eubank on this issue – whatever you think of the IBO as an organisation, despite their relative youth their championships have been held by some of the biggest names in our sport.
That must offer them some kind of legitimacy, even if it is less-so than the various other available championships.
However, then comes perhaps the most controversial element of Eubank’s announcement – the fight and the undercard will be shown (in the UK) on a brand new pay per view channel from British broadcaster ITV.
As you can see on the post Eubank goes on to defend the choice of channel, citing them as the originators of his fathers popularity over two decades ago.
Considering the actual ITV channel and it’s other various incarnations are free-to-view stations, the news that they are forcing the British public to pay for this event is a little strange.
The main event itself doesn’t strike one immediately as pay-per-view material. Here in the UK when a fight finds it’s way onto a box office channel there’s usually considerable anticipation and hype surrounding it.
It seems the plan is to turn Eubank Jr into the next big British box office star akin to the likes of Anthony Joshua. Whether or not you like the idea of paying for this particular fight he has to start somewhere, right?
Whatever your opinion of Eubank, his opponent, the respective broadcaster and the IBO title, there’s no denying that while he may have suffered a few slip-ups along the way ‘Next-Gen’ is at least attempting to re-establish his reputation as a serious, world-level contender.
The somewhat perplexing conditions surrounding his return, however, may end up biting him on the behind if he isn’t careful.
Then again, building his name on an alternative platform might just end up being the career booster he needs to hit the big time.
Will I be forking out to see him pick up his first world title? Probably. Out of hope for the future if nothing else. Chris Eubank Jr is oozing world-class potential and has been for years. I think it’s about time he took advantage of it.