The Weekender

Chris Eubank Jr (left) and Conor Benn pose in London.

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” so said Conor Benn in yesterday’s London Bridge press conference to formally announce his forthcoming fight with Chris Eubank Jr.

That, in essence is what we have in the 157lbs (11st, 3lbs) ‘catchweight’ contest at London’s O2 Arena on 8 October. Billed as ‘Born Rivals’ and co-promoted by Wasserman Boxing and Matchroom it’s a match up between two carbon copies of their parents; in confidence, physicality and boxing style, and with some attitude thrown in for good measure.

The early 1990’s fights between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Sr. were a couple of the most iconic fights in British boxing history, the sequel played out to a terrestrial TV audience of 17 million on a peak time Saturday night. That is why this fight has been made.

Not, because either need it at this moment in time. Both are world ranked in their natural and respective weight divisions – Benn at welterweight (147lbs) and Eubank at middleweight (160lbs). Both are close to securing a title shot with one of the world sanctioning bodies, but their promoters are struggling to get a champion to fight. Conor Benn summed up “This is a fight that makes sense at this time”.

More relevant to the promotion and public interest is the family history and that both need to settle a score for their respective family honour. The log currently sits at 1-0 to the Eubank’s, the second fight a hotly disputed draw at a sold out Old Trafford football stadium on 9 October 1993. This autumn’s contest will fall one day short of 29 years on. The original fight was a nine round epic stopped in Eubank’s favour. Both cemented the legendary status of the families in British sporting history. This will be Act III.

In a tetchy press conference Eubank Jr. who’d pressed his promoter Kalle Sauerland to take the ‘Benn route’, to settle what the promoter referred to as a “Monster family feud”, was repeatedly dismissive of his opponent.

Whilst noting “He’s undefeated, he has momentum, he has highlight KO wins” Eubank summarised “I’m gonna take you back to school, sit you down in class”. He toyed that he would only need to be 60% prepared on the night, and then added “If I’m 100%, it’s a public execution !”.

On the family rivalry Eubank said “I don’t dislike Conor, but at the same time this fight is personal…I watched the mental stress and injuries (of my father) as a child…I can’t forget, I can’t forgive…I can’t let the Benn name get on top”.

Potentially, this has all the makings of a classic confrontation. Eubank (32-2, 23 KO’s) is the taller man, technically sound with respectable power and at 34 has greater experience having fought at championship level for the last decade. Benn (21-0, 14 KO’s), stocky with powerful shoulders has shown in recent fights the power inherited from his father’s genes. At 25, he’s entering his peak but lacks the experience of his opponent.

The fight provides the greater opportunity for Benn, he will be the man moving up in weight to test the waters, if he loses he will return to welterweight. Eubank will have to boil down to make the agreed 157lbs and being the older man, more is on the line. On the unacceptable prospect of losing the fight Eubank said “If I lose to Conor Benn…I’m finished”.

The Brighton fighter confessed he won’t make 157, a weight he claims he hasn’t been at since 18 years of age. He will take the substantial six figure penalty clause for every pound over 157, he won’t “kill” himself for this fight in training camp. Summarising “I just need to show up”.

Benn was more circumspect “Each fight I treat as a world title fight. I’m a young, hungry and motivated fighter…I will prepare the same way I prepare for everyone else, full steam ahead”. He referred to Eubank’s repeated bravado as being his “ego talking” and got particularly animated when Eubank claimed he was in his “father’s shadow”. An insult sure to stoke up further the fire in the younger man’s body.

It was left to Eubank’s trainer Ronnie Davies, a man who’d seen and done the first two contests in the family feud to sum up the significance and potential in this fight “The first fight was brutal…this fight will be brutal as they’ve got the same passion – their fathers”.

The hype will build significantly up to 8 October, with the main stories being the family feud and weight discrepancy. It promises to be an exciting journey to fight night. Look out for further updates on this site.

Tickets for the 20,000 seater O2 Arena have just gone on sale and the fight and supporting card will be available live and exclusive on the DAZN streaming platform as a pay per view event.

Update 14 August – the event sold out within 30 minutes.

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