Chris Eubank Jnr’s testing of the Californian waters at Virgil Hunter’s gym is a smart move; a brave and necessary step if he is to reach his full potential.
That is not to denigrate the role his father has played, or Ronnie Davies. I have a lot of time for both, but a degree of separation won’t hurt at this point. He had already begun to work with trainer Nate Vasquez last year. This is recognition there are still improvements to be made if he is to leave his own indelible imprint on the sport.
I have always liked Junior. He fought a great tactical fight against James DeGale last month, kept nailing him with good punches then stepping back. However, he didn’t have his usual intensity. In the defeat to George Groves a year earlier, he was hurt. Maybe that made him a little gun-shy.
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Taking a step away from proud dad and former world champ Chris Sr is no bad thing for Junior, says Barry
Junior has all the assets, great pace, great engine and a granite chin. He does not have the core strength of his father, but has the same bloody character.
When opponents come on to him, he can be devastating. But when he has to switch it up and initiate, he falls short.
Hunter hit the nail on the head by identifying the importance of footwork. He points out that Eubank Jnr’s footwork is not good enough going forward. He is hands first, not feet first.
This is not an issue on the counter, but at the highest level you need more in your locker.
What he needs to do now is to differentiate between aggressive fighting and the subtlety of moving in, of switching gears quickly between attack and defence. The ability to switch at the right moments in a match is what makes good fighters great.
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Eubank Jnr bounced back from bloody defeat to Groves but Barry feels he'd benefit from dropping down a division
At 29, it is not easy to undo established patterns and habits.
Will he be able to take instruction? It is important that he accepts Hunter’s teachings intellectually as well as physiologically. He has to be committed or it won’t work.
He has taken the first step. Now he has to follow it all the way through.
Another change I would consider is to drop down to middleweight. I believe he would be more effective at 160 pounds, and there are some great fights out there in that division.
Imagine the excitement not to mention money were he to take on Canelo, Triple G, Jermall Charlo or Daniel Jacobs.
The possibilities are there, if he makes the changes stick.
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