A MASTERCLASS IN MANAGEMENT? – CHRIS EUBANK DOING WELL BY JUNIOR?

Rewind to the late pull out of his son, Chris Eubank Jr when scheduled to face Gennady Golovkin last year. Both Eubanks Jr and Sr were both thought of as figures of ridicule with Eddie Hearn stressing he “will never work with the Eubanks again” on many occasion, this had been preceded by another UK promoter (Frank Warren) to utter the same and some even more inflammatory words.

What followed was a move up to Super Middleweight for Eubank Jr, challenging little known Australian Renold Quinlan for his IBO World title. More ridicule followed as it was announced ITV were to take part in a pay-per-view experiment with Chris Eubank Jr. The fight initially being priced at £20, fighting for a so called ‘plastic title’ and the little known Quinlan having had a record of 11-1 at the time, things looked pretty bleak for the Eubanks. Amongst rumours of the under-card fighters getting ripped off and the likes of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren having been openly uncomplimentary towards the whole affair, many had blamed the former Super Middleweight World Champion, Chris Eubank Sr for his sons expected unfulfilled career.

As the weeks preceded we saw small glimpses of hope in the Quinlan Vs Eubank Jr build up, silently promoted by North West promoter Richard Poxon. To start, the price got slashed to £10 accompanied by some encouraging additions to the under-card including; heavyweights David Price Vs Chrstian Hammer, Adam Etches Vs John Ryder with Andrew Selby and Kid Galahad adding some extra quality. What at one point look to be doomed card, was now even breaking into the main stream market with the help of the Eubank name.

As Eubank claimed the IBO World Super Middleweight, on the face of things the Eubank’s had barely survived a risky experiment and were being accused of ‘ripping off the fans’ by some. However the more you look at the fall out of the debut of Eubank Jr at 168 pounds positives continually emerge, potentially revealing Eubank Sr as the master mind behind Eubank Jr’s now lucrative and potentially history making position.

Despite many thinking picking up the IBO belt was a waste of time, Eubank Jr had also earned himself a top 10 ranking in the WBC at super middleweight, whilst maintaining his high ranking at middleweight with the WBO, WBA and IBF. Options were a-plenty. Much more, anyway, than ever before in Eubank Jr’s career and it was largely due to Chris Eubank Jr taking an easy fight for what many would call an illegitimate world title. An average show that was very easy to access despite the £10 fee and earnt a 5/10 from fans rating in my opinion. Not a fail, but not a complete success in terms of entertainment. Business wise it was masterful for their first pay-per-view event. The Champion only got paid £44,000 compared to that of Chris Eubank Jr receiving over £1million. Not that I agree with it, but it’s great business getting your opponent to fight at such a lower rate than he’d probably deserve along with having to pay no Eddie Hearn or Frank Warren finders fee. All in all, very profitable for Eubank Jr.

The rate of sale for the Quinlan/Eubank Jr PPV didn’t blow anybody away, rumoured to be anywhere from 60,000 to 70,000. However, comparing just the numbers to (just an example) Sergey Kovalev Vs Andre Ward (150,000 ish pay-per-view buys), you have to be impressed by the fact Eubank Jr was able to generate such an audience. If you look at the comparison of pay-per-view buys between the aforementioned fights, it tells us that Eubank Jr has well over a third of the pulling power than Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward combined when fighting a 11-1 fighter nobody really knows for what most would consider a non title fight!

As Eubank Jr’s pay-per-view experiment on ITV continued onto a fight with former Wold champion Arthur Abraham, the IBO Super Middleweight champion signed up to the exciting World Boxing Super Series. A tournament involving highly rated British fighters; Callum Smith, Jamie Cox and WBA Super champion George Groves. The WBSS consisting of eight fighters in each weight class, taking part in a cup style tournament gave the opportunity to Chris Eubank Jr of making £10 million if he wins the WBSS. As he came through the quarter final with ease, disposing of the Turkish fighter Avni Yildrim by round 3. It set up a mouth-watering all British contest with WBA Super champion George Groves.

If Eubank Jr can overcome, what is being touted as a 50/50 fight against George Groves it would place him in the final to win the Muhammad Ali trophy, most likely against another British fighter, Callum Smith. Alongside the Muhammad Ali trophy, the WBA Super, IBO and WBC diamond belts will be extra incentives for Eubank Jr. Although Eubank Jr did have the chance to win all the middleweight titles from Gennady Golovkin whilst making £3million in the process. Surely an example of bad management? For me it was the wrong fight at the wrong time and there was a high chance Eubank Jr would have lost that fight (much like the Billy Joe-Saunders).

I am not for one second condoning team Eubank for pulling out of contract negotiations with Golovkin after hyping the fight so much. But looking from a purely business stand point, the fact Eubank Jr is now in a position to win a lot of silverware with less ambitious hurdles must make this a success? Not that Groves and Smith are easy fights, but when you compare them to Golovkin, it should be an easy choice especially as Eubank Jr stands to make millions in easier fights, with a fight against Groves really galvanising the attention of British boxing fans.

As Groves put Jamie Cox away in the 4th round last night with a vicious body shot, it set the scene nicely for Groves Vs Eubank. The move by the Eubank’s to leave Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn in their shadows looks to be already vindicated by signing up to Kalle Sauerland’s World Boxing Super Series and making a impressive start to the ITV pay-per-view experiment. A mouth watering semi-final potentially at the 41,000 capacity home of Chelsea football club in early 2018, further cementing the highly criticised decisions made by Chris Eubank for his son.

In conclusion, most of the country remember the highly publicised bankruptcy of Chris Eubank in 2009. Surely the worst person to guide the finances of an elite level fighter? But you could argue you only really learn from your mistakes. Eubank Sr, having already gone through the gauntlet of a successful boxing career you would imagine he would not let his own flesh and blood make the same mistakes.

By Adam Noble-Forcey

@Adam4cSports