When Chris Eubank, the dad, beat Graciano Rocchigiani over twelve rounds in Berlin in 1994 he ruined the plans of six very angry and inebriated bridesmaids and they gathered at ringside to pelt him with warm beer.
Rocchigiani was unbeaten in 35 fights at the time, boxing in his city, considered a real test and he had made bold plans to marry his sweetheart after the Eubank contest. The problem was that Graciano, the old romantic, said he would only marry his girlfriend if he won, which seemed a bit harsh to me when he announced his plans a few days before the fight. He was, my German colleagues assured me, telling the truth.
"I only like sex and TV now," said Rocchigiani at a conference in Berlin. "This is just another fight for me - I have been fighting too long. It's time to settle down and if I win, I will marry, but only if I win." The bridesmaids loitered with darkening hopes on the night, hollering at their man, expectant and swilling pints at their table adjacent to the press row. Sadly, for them, Eubank was quite brilliant and retained his WBO super middleweight title for the ninth time. That was the night Eubank, the arch baddy and full-time boxing heel, remained in the ring for pictures and autographs for over an hour. Eubank genuinely loved the sport he so routinely abused, another of his myriad contradictions.
Rocchigiani, incidentally, had already been a world champion, would go on and win a world title at light-heavyweight and is rightly considered a fighter of true quality, a pioneering part of the boxing revolution in Germany in the Nineties. He was also in trouble with the police on a regular basis, serving a couple of petty sentences for scrapping after midnight with arresting officers; he was also treated disgracefully by the WBC in 1998 when they decided to strip him of their WBC light-heavyweight belt and claimed his position in their rankings was "a typographical error".
Sweet Rocky, as he was inevitably known, had beaten the great American Michael Nunn to win the WBC belt, which was a fact that the WBC in their Mexico City bunker chose to outrageously ignore. The WBC simply installed Roy Jones as the light-heavyweight champion and continued with their business; as a freak show to the side show there was a strong rumour in 2016 that Rocky, 52 at the time, would fight Jones, a mere 47, in a fight nearly twenty years too late. It never happened, thankfully.
In 2002, just as Rocky was about to serve a year for assaulting the police (it's always more than one, generally in the region of six) when they arrived to eject him from the backseat of a woman's car, which he was sleeping in, lawyers for the wayward German fighter beat the WBC in court and won compensation of 7.8 million dollars and 20 million dollars in damages for their client.
However, the WBC threatened to fold, bleated like trapped lambs about insolvency and how much good they had been doing for 40 years, how cruel everything was and how it had been a mistake stripping Rocky. A deal was done, Rocky received an undisclosed sum and the WBC continues to reign supreme, its pomposity so overblown that traditional criticism is meaningless as it goes about dictating terms in a ridiculous sport that invents the rules as it goes along.
It was February in 1994 when Eubank won in Berlin, a frozen start to a relentless year for the boxer too often considered nothing more than a quirky attraction both then and now; Eubank defended his title five more times, going the full twelve rounds on four occasions, before the end of the year.
This Saturday Eubank returns to Germany with his son, Chris Jr, for a fight against a tough guy called Avni Yildirim, which is part of the super-middleweight segment of the World Boxing Super Series. Yildirim is, in theory, a totally untested fighter at the top level but reports from his sparring sessions with James DeGale earlier this year in Miami were impressive. If half the tales are true, which is about the right percentage in the boxing business, then Yildirim, who is from Turkey but fights in Germany, is a certainly a threat to Eubank Jr.
"My son is made for nights like this, nights when the crowd want your blood," Eubank told me in Las Vegas before the Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather fight. "I lived for nights like this - this will be a great night." If Eubank wins, he will meet the winner of the following Saturday's other quarterfinal, an intriguing fight between George Groves, the WBA champion, and Swindon's unbeaten Jamie Cox, in a WBSS semi final at some point in January or February. In Las Vegas I argued this would never happen in the modern game, two hard fights in just a few months and Eubank, as I hoped he would, disagreed: "I did it, my son can do it and will do it - he is a warrior and that is what warriors do." I hope Eubank is right and his son puts on the type of masterclass that so bitterly disappointed six German women back in 1994.