Eubank vs Benn: The Next Chapter
At the time of writing, the fight isn’t signed, sealed and delivered yet. But barring any last-minute shenanigans, it is a case of when and not if, we get the next chapter in the Eubank Benn story confirmed.
It carries more than a hint of nostalgia, and will no doubt have the desired effect on the commercial side, but there is still a little slice of desperation about it.
Both Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn will earn plenty, and good luck to them. The winner advances and will target bigger fights much nearer their comfort zone. The loser will face a rebuild, the manner of the defeat, will determine how severe that rebuild will be. For Eubank, a definitive conclusive loss, could be terminal to any ambitions of a winning a world title proper. A crushing loss and his career could be dead in the water.
Make no mistake, Eubank is the fighter who goes into this unlikely fight with all the pressure on his shoulders. In truth, he gains very little. And the reality is, he could lose everything. The fight makes far more sense to Benn.
The more established fighter, the bigger fighter, the more experienced fighter, all things considered, Eubank should win. But I’m not convinced he will.
Benn has been matched as they say, carefully, although the fighter himself has been more than vocal in wanting more, and fighting Eubank seems like a decision of utter recklessness. Stupid even. But as much as it is a gamble. It is one that is worth taking. Even in defeat, Benn loses very little. Although some of the aura around the much-improved welterweight hopeful, will be lost. If only temporarily. Benn can be repackaged to come again.
Benn seven years younger at 25, can return to his more natural division. Benn has time. Eubank at 32, doesn’t. Benn is the one who can offer more excuses in defeat. Benn will recover. Eubank may not.
Eubank has seemingly been treading water for much of the last few years. The early years were spent in relative isolation without a full-time trainer and the IBO days did little for his career. The two best fighters he faced, beat him.
The ego couldn’t seem to land, and when it did, Roy Jones arrived. But it seems a partnership that hasn’t gelled. At least not yet. Eubank has the look of a fighter who is struggling to adjust to a style that is alien and uncomfortable to him. I always had the feeling that his best years have been wasted in many ways. It might now be too late for him. Even the win over Liam Williams earlier this year left more questions than answers.
As much as the fight will generate in revenue, I wonder how much the fight has been made out of frustration, desperation even. Benn demands a test, and with his promoter seemingly unable to land that defining fight at welterweight, is that the reason they have turned their attention to Eubank.
If the colossal financial losses for DAZN are as bad as reported, they need fights like this for the balance sheet to show some signs of life. And hope. How Anthony Joshua performs in his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk could be critical in many ways. KSI certainly isn’t the answer. Or so we hope.
But whatever the reason, either by design or chance, Eddie Hearn has come up with a masterstroke of a fight. Even if it has a taste of revisiting what has worked previously. The historical family feud will form much of the pre-fight narrative. And so it should. It’s far too good to let go and be wasted. The older generation will no doubt be wheeled out once again to help sell the fight. They will more than play their part.
But history isn’t enough, and thankfully, the primary participants carry enough of what is needed to lead the merry dance. Even the haters will watch. They won’t even lie about it. The fight, on the surface, is everything that is wrong with boxing. Weight divisions exist for a reason, and rehydration clauses are always a cause for concern. There are exceptions, but this old cynic believes if you want to fight a middleweight, fight him naturally at that weight without trying to get the leverage to swing the fight in your favour. But equally, Eubank probably has to accept certain restrictions or quite simply, go elsewhere.
Eubank, justifiably so to a point, is going where the money is. But the Benn fight, on the back of his fruitless chase for Kell Brook, is more time wasted for a fighter who has little time to waste. Looking for smaller men to fight does raise many alarm bells. Talk of Jake Paul next, Twitter chat or not, is telling. And worrying.
But yet, despite everything that is wrong with the fight, somehow it still works. It shouldn’t. But it does. It carries enough intrigue, doubt and enough characters to lift it beyond the normal levels of anticipation. Despite the gimmicky novelty look of the fight, it still has enough meaning for it to be justified. Just. It is a fight that has money written all over it.
The comparisons to Golovkin/Brook are obvious if a little lazy. Tony Bellew and his seemingly mission to oblivion challenge to David Haye is perhaps a better fit. Mission impossible is made possible by timing. This fight has a ring of that about it.
Benn has craved this sort of test for the last year or so, weight disparity or not, Eubank is that test. In many ways, despite many reservations, it is an inspired piece of matchmaking. Eubank shouldn’t in any way be ruled out, and there is every chance his style will be too much for his younger opponent. But Eubank, like Haye did against Bellew, may find he is in the wrong place at the wrong time.