Chris Eubank Jr showed glimpses of the methodology of Roy Jones Jr during his return against Marcus Morrison on Saturday, as he looks to reach his potential this year.
Eubank Jr put on a convincing display against a game and tough Morrison, who more than held his own, but was ultimately beaten widely on the cards.
The Brighton man had his opponent hurt in the second round and pinned to the ropes, but instead of looking to close the show he opted instead to box his way to a ten round decision and bank the rounds in his first fight, since a two round win over Matt Korobov in December 2019 and under the tutelage of the former four-weight world champion.
Eubank Jr (30-2, 22 KOs) demonstrated his speed and accuracy, as he let his hands go with vigour in the mid-rounds, connecting to head and body and dare we say it, inheriting some of the flamboyant technique Jones Jr used to dazzle during his prime in the 1990s, with ‘NEXTGEN’ dropping his left hand low and showing improved, fast footwork and bobbing and weaving in and out of range.
The 31-year-old is on the cusp of a world title fight with a #1 ranking with the WBA where Ryota Murata is the ‘Super’ champion and Erislandy Lara holds the ‘Regular’ belt.
Eubank Jr has a wealth of options at stake, but who will he face next?
Eubank Jr revealed his desire pre-fight for a showdown with IBF Middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin and insisted it had to be made this year.
The pair reportedly came close to sealing a deal in 2016, but the Kazakh great instead fought Kell Brook, who moved up two weight classes and was stopped in five rounds.
Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs) is in the twilight years of his career at 39-years-old and although past his prime, he remains a dangerous operator as shown in his brutal seventh round knockout over Kamil Szeremeta in December.
‘GGG’ is reportedly in discussions for a unification with Murata on December 31 in Japan, however a meeting with Eubank Jr would hold more commercial value with the Brit’s profile much bigger than the WBA champion’s.
Eubank Jr would be confident that his speed and youth would prove crucial at this stage of Golovkin’s career, but would arguably head into a clash as the underdog, with Golovkin’s vast experience advantage, having competed in 23 world title fights.
Ryota Murata is a logical move for Eubank Jr and presents him the opportunity to secure a world title.
WBA ‘Super’ titlist, Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) is the least well-known world champion, but has a target on his back with his belt and was elevated from ‘Regular’ champion in January, after Canelo Alvarez, who faces Billy Joe Saunders on Saturday, vacated the title.
The Japan native avenged both of his professional losses against Hassan N’Dam and Rob Brant to claim the WBA title on two occasions and as mentioned is reportedly in talks with Golovkin for a bout on New Years Eve.
Eubank Jr’s promoter Kalle Sauerland has expressed an interest in making a clash with the 35-year-old and with his high ranking a fight could foreseeably be ordered by the governing body before too long.
Murata, who is promoted by Top Rank should not be overlooked, however with an esteemed amateur pedigree which saw him claim Gold at the 2012 Olympics in the Middleweight division and in the professional ranks, 13 of his 16 wins have ended inside the distance.
A potential showdown with Kell Brook is seemingly gaining more momentum, however unlikely it may have seemed.
The former IBF Welterweight world champion was stopped in four rounds in a bid to claim Terence Crawford’s WBO Welterweight crown in Las Vegas in November and is seemingly at the conclusion of a decorated career.
However, the 35-year-old has stated publicly his desire to face long-standing rival Amir Khan, suggesting he is not looking to hang up his gloves just yet.
The Sheffield man competed at Middleweight for his fight with Golovkin and has operated at 154lbs, which appears to be his natural weight class at this stage of his career, so a meeting with Eubank Jr could perhaps be made at a catchweight.
Eubank Jr said in an interview with IFLTV in January that he would be open to facing Brook as a “warm-up fight” and the ‘Special One’ appeared to respond on social media telling him to “get serious and we can 📞.”
Smack me around for a bit? Only thing you’ve smacked around for a bit is that silly machine on the wall!
Look what happens anytime you’ve needed footwork & a jab?!🤦🏾♂️
Talking about warmup fight?… you and your IBO belt been warming up for years now. Get serious and we can 📞
— Kell Brook (@SpecialKBrook) January 13, 2021
Brook (39-3, 27 KOs) would arguably be his biggest fight domestically, with the pair both prominent names with the UK public and a fight could resonate beyond the hardcore contingent.
Although, it remains to be seen how much interest there actually is for a clash between them.
Liam Williams is another enticing battle for Eubank Jr and a potential meeting has seemingly generated increased interest amongst the UK fans.
Williams (23-3-1, 18 KOs) is coming off a defeat to Demetrius Andrade in a brave attempt to claim the WBO Middleweight crown, where he climbed off the canvas in the second round to push the American to the limit in Florida, before succumbing to a unanimous decision defeat.
The Welshman’s stock has certainly risen, as a result of the grit and perseverance he demonstrated amid a disastrous start and with his all-action style it could make for an exciting affair.
Fuck me… @ChrisEubankJr you wanna brush up before you come in with me or I’ll beat the fuck out of you!
— Liam Williams 🏴 (@Liamwilliamsko) May 1, 2021
The 28-year-old posted on social media after Eubank Jr’s win on Saturday that he would need to improve before facing him and the ‘Machine’ has consistently spoken of his desire to face ‘NEXTGEN.’
It remains to be seen which direction Williams goes after his defeat to Andrade, who said he would become a world champion in the future.
Demetrius Andrade is after unification clashes, but a clash with another Brit in Eubank Jr could be appealing if the fights he desires fail to materialise.
Andrade (30-0, 18 KOs) showed his slickness and class in stages during his win over Williams, but was perhaps caught more than he would have liked, as he secured a dominant fourth world title defence last month.
Promoter Eddie Hearn called for clashes with the likes of WBC champion, Jermall Charlo who defends his title against the little-known Juan Macias Montiel on June 19.
Hearn, who said ‘Boo Boo’ would be willing to fight on Charlo’s TV network FOX Sports, last week spoke of the possibility of making a fight with Eubank Jr.
The 33-year-old is believed to be the most naturally gifted 160 pounder and Eubank Jr would have to find a way of navigating through his awkward style, which 30 opponents thus far have failed to find a winning formula for.
For the Providence man it would likely be a lucrative option, particularly if it was staged in the UK where his profile is growing, however Eubank Jr is known in the USA with his fight with Korobov taking place in Brooklyn, meaning it could certainly be staged in Andrade’s backyard.
Sergiy Derevyanchenko is a name that hasn’t been brought into the conversation, but is a credible opponent.
The Ukrainian has challenged for the world Middleweight title three times against Daniel Jacobs, Gennady Golovkin and most recently for Jermall Charlo’s WBC belt, losing on a unanimous decision.
The 35-year-old has never been found wanting at the top level and was praised for his effort against Golovkin, where he rallied after being dropped with some believing he won the bout.
It would be a good benchmark for Eubank Jr and an opportunity to test himself against a fighter who has held his own with the champions of the division.
Derevyanchenko (13-3, 10 KOs) is another aggressive boxer and would fancy his chances of upsetting the Brit having fought the more established names at 160lbs.
Comment below who you would like to see Chris Eubank Jr face next: