Saunders: Eubank Jr. will never improve as a fighter
By Tim Royner: WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders has some harsh things to say about Chris Eubank Jr. following his one-sided loss to WBA Super World super middleweight champion George Groves last Saturday night in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament in Manchester, England.
Saunders, who previously beat Eubank Jr. in 2014, says he’s not someone that learns from his fights. He does the same thing every time he fights, and he feels he’s not going to get any better in the future. Saunders suggests that Eubank Jr. go back to the British or journeyman level and fight that type of opposition for the next 1 to 2 years to work his game, because he doesn’t see him as being capable of mixing it with the best fighters at the world level at 160 or 168.
Eubank Jr. lost to Groves by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 117-112, 116-112 and 115-113. Saunders says he gave Eubank Jr. 2 rounds only. He didn’t fight well enough to win more than that. Eubank Jr. took advantage of Groves suffering a dislocated left shoulder in round 12 to get the better of him in that round.
”He’s not listening. He’s not learning,”Saunders said to Behind The Gloves about Eubank Jr. “He hasn’t learned since 2014. He can’t move forward with his boxing career unless some big changes are made or unless he can get some magic dust somewhere for his boxing skills, because they’re absolutely terrible. I think he should move back down to the journeyman level and twaddle around there for the next year or 2, because he’s never going to beat someone like me,” Saunders said.
Saunders goes on to say that Eubank Jr. can forget about him moving down to middleweight and getting an instant world title shot. Eubank Jr. is not going to be able to do that after the way he lost to Groves. He’s going to need to earn the title shot, and that could take a while if he’s not showing signs of improvement.
Eubank Jr. has fought plenty of domestic level opposition, and it hasn’t really helped him. He has wins over Nick Blackwell, Tom Doran, Renold Quinlan, Tony Jeter and Gary O’Sullivan. From those fights, Eubank Jr. developed some bad habits of throwing lots of repeated uppercuts. Trying to throw repeated uppercuts at the world level is a no-no. It doesn’t work against quality fighters, as we saw in Eubank Jr’s loss to Groves. To beat the better fighters, one needs to be able to use a number of different methods, especially if they lack the punching power that Eubank Jr. does. The awfulness of Eubank Jr’s game is going to make it near impossible for him to improve enough to beat the best. He’s very one-dimensional when he attacks his opponent. Trying to fight on the inside and throw repeated uppercuts is going to make Eubank Jr. an easy mark for the top middleweights in the division.
Eubank Jr. mention after the Groves fight that he could move back down to 160. It’s probably not going to get any better for Eubank Jr. in that weight class unless he focuses on his boxing, and stays out of harm’s way. Eubank Jr’s highly flawed game exceeds that of many of the top contenders at middleweight. Guys like Jermall Charlo, Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Dereyanchenko have some limitations to their game, but not to the extent that Eubank Jr. does.
Will he get any better? No,” Saunders says of Eubank Jr. ”If he takes punishment like he did against George Groves, it could be damaging to his health. He took a lot of damage. Those hard shots were significant, and they will play a factor in the future years to come,” Saunders said.
Not much was said from boxing fans about the punishment Eubank Jr. took from Groves last Saturday night. It’s kind of surprising that few people talked about all the big shots that Eubank Jr. took in the fight. He was walking into right hands in every round. Even in the 12th, after Groves had injured his left shoulder, Eubank Jr. was still getting hit with big right hands while he desperately was trying to score a knockout. Groves hit Eubank Jr. with 2 big right hands in the closing seconds of the fight that landed flush. Eubank Jr. showed a good chin in taking the shots, but he can’t continue to get hit like that if he wants to have a long career. Groves landed some of his best right hands of his career in that fight. Just because Eubank Jr. wasn’t knocked out by them doesn’t mean they didn’t do damage.
”I would have slapped him and told him to liven up,” Saunders said about Eubank Jr. if he’d been working his corner against Groves.
Trainer Chris Eubank Sr. was telling Eubank Jr. in the corner between rounds that he needed to attack Groves, but he wasn’t following his directions. The hard jabs and right hands that Groves kept hitting Eubank Jr. with on the outside seemed to dissuade him from coming forward to make the fight that he needed to for him to have had a chance to win. Towards the end of the fight, Eubank Jr. started to attack Groves more in close, but he was tied up much of the time and unable to get his shots off. Eubank Jr. looked too small to get the job done.
Eubank Jr. is thinking that if moves down to 160, he won’t have the same size issues he had against Groves, which is true. Eubank Jr. will be close to the same size as many of the top middleweights in the division. However, those fighters have better power than him, and they’re capable of fighting on the outside to keep Eubank Jr. from being able to get close enough to get his shots off. Gennady Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko all have great jabs that they can dominate with from the outside just like Groves did last Saturday against Eubank Jr.
“No matter what any trainer would have told him, he’s not good enough to execute the sort of game plan he needed,” Sauners said. ”He’ll never be a world champion, because he lacks what it takes. He has to look at the British level now,” Saunders said.