Alan Dawson – London
Popular Brighton-based pugilistic novice Chris Eubank Jr defeated Harry Matthews in a six round middleweight duel at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre in Sheffield on Saturday, May 12. Showing his typical wide array of punches, Eubank Jr exercised useful straights and hooks yet did not have everything his own way as Matthews was a game fighter spurred on by local support…
Official verdict: Eubank via referee’s decision.
While promoter Mick Hennessy’s premier prizefighter Tyson Fury attracts criticism for the perceived ‘domestic level’ opposition he faces, there is little question that, as a four fight novice, Eubank Jr is continuously matched tough. Not only was he propelled into six rounders from his debut professional appearance onwards, but he has also lined up against a cage fighter, an undefeated Scotsman and, in Yorkshire this weekend, an experienced local with a sterling winning record.
A cerebral fighter, Eubank Jr collected the dominant score in the opening round but rounds two and three were both competitive. Eubank Jr was patient in his punch output but his seeming tentativeness allowed Matthews to pressure, however, it was Eubank Jr who timed his shots well and also showed he was the clean puncher.
“It seems to me like he is taking it easy, he is feeling out the terrain and I think this is going well for him,” said Chris Eubank Sr, a proud father and two-weight world champion in his own right, who was sitting ringside studying his son’s performance.
Eubank Sr was not worried about Matthews’ ability to hang with Eubank Jr and, when addressing Channel 5, indicated that his offspring was simply assessing his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses: “We are yet to see if [Matthews] is the toughest opponent to date. Chris is in learning mode, feeling him out so let’s see what happens.”
The two punches Eubank Jr was dispatching most successfully were the straight right hand followed by the left hook, yet, despite the two-punch flurrying, there was little sustained aggression so Matthews was able to box back, albeit with not as much success.
“It’s a good learning fight for Eubank Jr,” said Fury, when Eubank Jr – who fought with a hashtag of #teameubank on his trunks – had completed five rounds. “From what I’ve seen from his professional outings so far there have been no mistakes.”
Whilst Eubank Jr edged the prior stanzas, there was no doubt who was the superior fighter in the sixth and final round as Eubank Jr loaded up on powerful hook punches looped in from wide. Looking for the Hollywood finish, Eubank Jr asserted himself aggressively, shook up Matthews’ foundations with hooks and uppercuts but was unable to close the show.
“I had the guy under control after three rounds,” he said in his dressing room. “I need to get rounds in so I worked on defence and foot movement so it was a great learning curve for me. I knew I could have stopped him but you don’t learn anything from throwing wild punches and getting guys out of there in one or two rounds.”
Eubank Sr added: “I really do not need to say much as his calibre says it all. I like the fact that he took his time, he stood back and felt his way around the ring. He was soaking up the experience. In terms of his [Matthews'] strength, it was a good calibre of opponent.”
With victory, Eubank Jr jumped up to 4-0-0, 2ko. Matthews fell to 12-6-1, 2ko.