Sometimes, you don’t need to have seen a boxer fight to know what style they bring to the ring. This is certainly true of Arthur Abraham, Chris Eubank Jr’s opponent at the SSE Arena this weekend.
With his balding head, hooded brows, cold, hard stare and neck the size of a well-established tree trunk, the Armenian resembles a mean gangland heavy that will destroy anything with his bare hands, as long as you ask him politely.
There are no frills with this former world champion. What you see is what you get
Eubank Jr will put his IBO world super-middleweight belt on the line against one of the strongest and robust fighters of his generation. As all but one of the 37-year-old’s previous opponents will testify, Abraham will take some stopping on Saturday night.
I spoke to Eubank Jr last week and he was bullish about his chances of producing an early finish, but Robert Steiglitz remains the only man to have beaten Abraham inside the distance. Even then, in 2013, it was the ‘cuts’ doctor forcing the ref to call time early.
Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Andre Dirrell and Gilberto Ramirez all failed to put him away. So, although he’s been outclassed by those at the elite level, this is a veteran who doesn’t do ‘giving in’.
Eubank’s exciting, fast, boldly aggressive approach gives credence to his boast that he will ‘stop the unstoppable man’, however, even though I’m a fan of his work, I remain skeptical.
This will only be the 27-year-old’s second clash at super-middle, having come up from the weight class below. It’s also worth remembering that it took him 10 rounds to dispose of the lower-grade Renold Quinlan, in February.
Do Eubank’s punches pack as much venom at super-middleweight?
That box remains un-ticked at this stage. Who to put your money on?
The young Brit describes the challenger as ‘one dimensional’. Too his credit, that’s not too far off the mark. Protecting himself with a high guard, charging forward with power shots aplenty, the IBO champ knows what to expect from the Armenian.
Eubank’s superior speed should help him avoid those predictable punches, and then he’ll rely on his talent to pick off the older, slower man with eye-catching money shots.
If he can find a way to spectacularly stop Abraham, he will be the talk of boxing, and mega-fights against George Groves, Callum Smith, James DeGale, Billy Joe Saunders and Gennady Golovkin would surely follow.
In truth, all that matters is a win.
It’s been announced this week that the victor will automatically qualify for the Muhammad Ali Trophy: a nine-fighter tournament in the super-middleweight division. That’s a competition Groves and Smith are already signed up for, and Eubank fancies it, too.
There is his extra motivation.
Will he live up to his tag as strong favourite at Wembley?
Having learned lessons from a naïve defeat on points to Billy Joe Saunders in 2014 – where Eubank Jr paced himself too slowly in his debut 12 round fight – I do fully expect the Sussex star to shine as he steps up in class.
His rapidity, repertoire of punches, aggression, and granite chin (inherited from his father) should ensure he claims the win he needs to boost a growing CV.
Stopping Abraham is another matter though, and once he’s shared 12 rounds with the durable ‘King Arthur’, I believe Eubank Jr will be happy enough to settle for a hard-fought points win.
At this stage of his blossoming career, I’ll be surprised if that’s not what we see.
Prediction: Eubank Jr (1/8)
Prediction: Eubank Jr on Points (4/6)
Grosvenor Sport Price Boost: Eubank Jr to win in Rounds 1-6, (was 9/2, now 6/1)