Boxing, like so many other sports, can often find itself struggling to live up to all the pre-event hype. This however was not the case with Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr.
Saunders and Eubank created a real buzz within the boxing community with the dislike for each other obvious and the confidence of both men that not only would they win but would do so in emphatic fashion.
Saunders is a man who represented his country at the Olympics and has gone on to become the British, Commonwealth, European and WBO International champion. He has progressed through the ranks in the traditional way and has done so whilst remaining undefeated.
Eubank Inexperience Coming Into Fight
Eubank Jr, in contrast, lacked the amateur pedigree of the aforementioned Saunders and had faced no-one of any real note as a professional. He is of course the son of the enigmatic Chris Eubank who was involved in a series of high-profile domestic dust ups.
Coming into the fight Saunders was seen as the man to be the technically better fighter with a good jab. Eubank was seen as the stronger, more powerful fighter who would be most likely of the pair to get a knock out.
Article continues below
Eubank is an extremely confident young man who has decided not to do things the conventional way in the sport. He didn't turn up to press conferences, allowed his father to do most of the talking, said that his trainer isn't there to give him advice but merely put Vaseline on his head, amongst a host of other controversial actions.
Eubank had been billed as an extremely dangerous fighter by his father and claims of being the next Floyd Mayweather have been made in the past. Admittedly he had looked very good in his fights coming into this one, with slick body movement and good punch power, but to make such a claim having fought modest opponents to say the least was ridiculous.
The fight itself was greeted with a fantastic atmosphere at the ExCel London this past weekend with fans having truly bought into the pre-fight hype. Saunders had by far the majority of the support in the crowd.
Saunders Takes Early Rounds
Saunders started the fight extremely well, taking the early rounds by keeping the fight at distance and utilising his jab to excellent effect. Eubank was being out-worked and appeared to have taken too big a jump up in class at this stage.
This wasn't to remain the case for the entirety of the fight as the second half of the fight really showed that there is something about Eubank that bodes very well for the future. He showed that he has inherited his father's determination.
Eubank Does Well In Later Rounds
Eubank upped the pace in the later rounds and landed some big shots on Saunders. In his previous fights the opponents would have been knocked out but at this level sometimes sheer power isn't enough. Saunders showed himself to have a good chin and heart to fight off the late surge of Eubank.
Eubank seemed to take a good few of the later rounds and as I stood in the crowd people turned around debating who the winner was. Some felt Eubank had edged it whereas others, like myself, had Saunders winning by a couple of rounds.
It was therefore no surprise when renowned MC Jimmy Lennon Jr announced that we had a split decision win. The scorecards read 115-114 to Saunders, 116-113 to Eubank and 115-113 to Saunders.
This was an entertaining and at times a close fight, but Saunders was the rightful winner on the night. He won the first four or five rounds clearly with his superior skills and perhaps the main difference on the night was that Saunders had been tested coming into the fight whereas Eubank had not.
Eubank has shown that he is a talented boxer who can go on and achieve good things in the sport but this has been a big reality check for him and his team. He is not the all conquering, undefeatable boxer that he has been billed as.
Saunders will now go on to challenge for the WBO world title which will be contested by Andy Lee and Matt Korobov.