Irish legend Steve Collins is stumped on picking a winner out of the big domestic blockbuster between Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr. Collins, who won titles at middleweight and super middleweight, is excited about the grudge fight that is dividing the nation and is finding it too hard to call.
The Celtic Warrior inflicted the first loss to Eubank Sr’s record in March 1995 and followed that up six months later with another points victory, before going on to retire another British great in Nigel Benn with two back-to-back victories.
“It’s great to witness a genuine domestic showdown between two top fighters who are both capable of beating each other.
“Both fighters are different characters, you have the brash Eubank Jr. who’s very much in the mold of his father in every way from his fighting style to his attitude and demeanor, whereas Saunders is the smiley happy character, who comes out with smart and funny comment, but has the steely determination to win.
“Saunders is the experienced and seasoned contender who’s proved himself at top level over and over again for the last couple of years, but for Eubank Jr. it’s his first real acid test, in my opinion, and if he comes through then he’s going to prove that he’s a genuine world title contender. If he doesn’t, it’s not the end of his career, but it’s a big jump in standard for him.
“For Saunders it’s a case of ‘he has to win’, on paper he’s above Eubank Jr. and if he loses it’s going to drop him in the ratings and out of world title contention. Saunders has taken himself to Spain to train for this fight because he knows it’s a must win situation for him, for Eubank Jr. it’s a gamble early in career.”
Collins sees the same characteristics in Eubank Jrr. as he does in his father and believes this is a big step up for the undefeated Brighton challenger.
“Eubank Sr is definitely the toughest man I shared a ring with. He was the most game and determined fighter I came up against. I wouldn’t say he’s the best I’ve shared a ring with, but definitely the most resilient.
“Of course Eubank Jr. comes from the same stock, he’s got that arrogance, toughness, determination and ability, and he’ll be getting guidance from his father who’s been there with the ups, downs and pitfalls.
“Eubank Jr. is someone you have to take seriously and I do commend him on the fact that he’s taken this fight as I think it’s a risky one for him.
“It’s something I didn’t expect him to go for, but the fact that he’s fighting Saunders has gone up in my estimation because he’s not taking an easy route to his world title ambitions.”
The 50-year-old, who now works alongside his brother and trainer Paschal in the gym that includes Stephen Ormond and Frank Buglioni, reckons Saunders will have to box to win and Eubank will need the knockout.
“If it goes the distance then I fancy Saunders because I firmly believe that Eubank Jr. will need the knockout to win. Eubank Jr. is not busy enough to beat Saunders, who’s a very busy fighter, Eubank Jr. will need to go for the K.O, but Saunders is a very clever and seasoned fighter.
“Whoever is clever enough to put together the right plan and stick to it is going to win, but for Saunders he has to keep moving and rack up the points with that high work-rate and for Eubank he has to cut the ring down and turn it into a slug fest.
“Whatever happens it’s going to be exciting.”