Chris Eubank Jnr interview: ‘I’ve buried the hatchet with dad’

Chris Eubank Jnr - Chris Eubank Jnr interview: ‘I’ve buried the hatchet with dad’ - Steven Paston/PA
Chris Eubank Jnr - Chris Eubank Jnr interview: ‘I’ve buried the hatchet with dad’ - Steven Paston/PA

Chris Eubank Jr still looks lean but is 15lb heavier than the emaciated figure who ghosted through an unofficial weigh-in posted on his Instagram on October 7 to prove he could make 157lb to fight Conor Benn. The following day, the fight collapsed and brought boxing to its knees.

Benn failed two drug tests for the banned performance-enhancing drug clomiphene and the fight was scrapped, called off by the British Boxing Board of Control, yet kept “on” by its promoters Eddie Hearn and Kalle Sauerland until it was finally abandoned 48 hours before it was due to take place.

Two months on, Eubank has disclosed that after “a bizarre two months” involving the cancelled catchweight fight with Benn – which came to fruition and generated huge interest after their fathers’ two infamous grudge fights in 1990 and 1993 which were watched by 17 million people in the UK – he would still take the fight “if and when Benn clears his name”. But this time, it would have to be at 160lb – the middleweight limit – as the Brighton man would not be prepared “to boil down to 157lb again.”

Eubank, who has a new fight scheduled on January 21 with Liam Smith in Manchester, says it has been the most peculiar two months of his career. “Bizarre is an understatement. You can’t write some of the things that have happened over the last few months, for sure. I wanted to go ahead with the fight,” he says.

“I’m a fighter, I’m a human being, I went through a training camp, I was cutting weight, and I knew I could win, so regardless of what Conor Benn had or hadn’t done, yes, I was willing to get in there and take the risk. As a fighter, I don’t care what someone’s been doing, I’m going to find a way to win, that’s how I saw it.”

Chris Eubank Jnr and Conor Benn - Chris Eubank Jnr interview: ‘I’ve buried the hatchet with Dad’ - Leigh Dawney/Getty Images
Chris Eubank Jnr and Conor Benn - Chris Eubank Jnr interview: ‘I’ve buried the hatchet with Dad’ - Leigh Dawney/Getty Images

The bigger picture was that Eubank agreeing to go ahead with the contest in spite of Benn’s positive doping test allowed the world at large to critique boxing’s moral and ethical code, given that it is an inherently dangerous sport.

Eubank responded: “As an individual I was right but it wasn’t my place to say whether the fight should go or shouldn’t go on. That was down to the boxing board, the promoters.”

Nonetheless, Eubank is still prepared to have the fight with Benn in the future. “Yes I hope the fight still happens at some point absolutely. We have unfinished business. Do I hope he clears his name? Even if he does, he’s still guilty in the eyes of the public, it doesn’t matter what verdicts are given. He has that stain on his name and that will never ever leave so in that sense he’s not going to clear his name in my opinion. He might clear it in the courts, on a piece of paper but he’s still been cheating in the eyes of the public, and that’s something he’s just going to have to live with for the rest of his life.”

Benn has since relinquished his licence with the BBBofC and his case is still being heard by the Board and UK Anti-Doping. Benn has continued to maintain his innocence and that the two positive tests were “contaminated”, insisting that he will clear his name.

The events surrounding the aborted fight week in early October also caused a fissure between Eubank and his father, Eubank Snr, who had been vocal in public that he feared for his son because he agreed to cut so much weight. “Yep, the relationship with my father is repaired,” Eubank, 33, says. “People have to answer for what they’ve done, and then we move forward but nothing’s ever forgotten.”

But if Eubank versus Benn 3 does happen again? “I would hope my father would be in my corner, and yes, he would be much happier with the fight happening at 160lb.

“I’m not cutting weight again. Benn doesn’t hold any of the power now, so if the fight ever does come around it’s on my terms, my terms are I’m a middleweight so it’s at 160.”

Chris Eubank Jnr (left) and Liam Smith - Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Chris Eubank Jnr (left) and Liam Smith - Andrew Redington/Getty Images

For now, though, Eubank Jnr (32-2-0, 23 KOs) switches his attention to former world champion Liam Smith (32-3-1, 19 KOs), early next year. Styles make fights, and Smith, the rugged Liverpudlian ought to be the perfect foil for Eubank’s efficient, counter-punching style. “It’s a big fight, it’s going to be very fun, it’s definitely a fight that excites me,” he says.

“I don’t think he likes me, which is okay, I guess he’s not really my cup of tea either to be honest but I guess we’re going to have to see how things unfold.”