British middleweight rivals Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Junior will clash head on in the most eagerly anticipated domestic dust up since Carl Froch and George Groves fought on the hallowed Wembley turf, when they meet in the ring at London Docklands, Excel Arena on November 29th.
Its a fight that has been brewing for a good while but few fight fans expected the ‘i’s’ to be dotted and T’s crossed this early on so the announcement of the fight came as something of a refreshing surprise. So many fights that fans want to see don’t end up happening for example the potential match ups between Barker, Macklin and Murray that never materialised as well as the current Bantamweight champions Quigg and Frampton who seem to be avoiding each other like the plague for one reason or another. Its great for the sport that the two fighters are laying it on the line for this one and depending on the manner of defeat, a loss certainly isn’t the end of the road for either man. They clash on the undercard of the heavyweight match up between Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora but this fight has all the right ingredients to be a headline stealer.
Hertfordshire hitman Billy Joe Saunders has progressed through the traditional route to become the British, Commonwealth and European champion and all of his titles will be on the line. The 2008 Beijing Olympian has passed every test that has been thrown his way so far in his professional career most recently halting Emanuele Blandamura in the eighth round of a scheduled twelve. He delivered with a perfectly timed, crippling right hook to claim the European title before proceeding to launch a verbal tirade on Eubank Jr. To say Billy Joe Saunders has made no attempt to disguise his absolute disdain for his rival is an understatement. He has made it crystal clear that this isn’t business, its personal. He will have to keep his emotions in check come fight night though or he could get punished. If the application for the fight to be granted final eliminator status for the WBO world title isn’t approved then Saunders is arguably putting his world title ambitions aside for his personal hatred of Eubank who is ranked lower than him.
Billy Joe has been made the favourite with the bookmakers largely because of the titles he has won and the level of opposition he has faced and rightly so. Blandamura, John Ryder and Gary O’Sullivan were all undefeated prospects before losing to BJS. There are no doubts that he has faced the better calibre fighters compared to what Eubank has been in with so far. However, the comparison of the two fight resumes alone doesn’t give an accurate forecast for the fight.
Eubank Jr just like his father is more than willing to play the role of chief protagonist and pantomime villian something which has riled almost all the names on the British scene. Despite a number of them calling him out he has arguably opted to take on the best of the bunch after a quick tune up fight at the Liverpool Echo Arena on the 25th of October. Whether it proves to be arrogance of just pure confidence in his ability remains to be seen but it’s unlikely that Eubank Sr and his team would put there highly protected asset into a fight they were not positive they could win at this stage of his development. He has been out in Las Vegas recently sharpening his skills with Floyd Mayweather Sr.
Although he has been fighting only durable journeyman it is no secret that he has been troubling some of the best names on the sport in sparring including the likes of Supermiddleweights James Degale and Carl Froch who rates him very highly. Whilst sparring isn’t a fight it can give a good indication of the potential of Eubank Jr. When he started out his slick skills were undermined by what many thought was a lack of power but he has developed that facet over the past couple of years and has recently been showing it off by demolishing his opponents in style throwing punches full of venom.
This fight is full of unanswered questions. Eubank Jr looks like the real deal and if he can win it will certainly send a message out through the division that he is now a serious contender but will it prove to be too much too soon? He looks to have the advantages in speed and power but will have to deal with an undefeated southpaw that has more experience and is desperate to dish out a beating. It’s a hard fight to predict but Eubank Jr represents the better value bet.