Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Chris Eubank Jr finds an ally in Roy Jones Jr who his father admitted he could never have beaten
Eubank Sr in 2013: "Why would I want to fight Roy Jones Jr in his prime?"
Last Updated: 06/07/20 6:03pm
The man charged with realising Chris Eubank Jr's potential is not his father, but a lost rival of his father's, a champion that his father confessed he could never beat.
Roy Jones Jr was American boxing royalty through the 90s while Chris Eubank Sr made the sport mainstream in the UK but a fight between them never materialised. Rather than wonder 'what if', they have reconciled by Jones Jr becoming the unlikely new trainer of Eubank Sr's son.
Jones Jr is called "a genius" by Eubank Jr. His father laughs off why he never boxed Jones Jr, as if to admit that he was always second-best. Both will be revered for their own reasons, and quite rightly, but the real beneficiary now will be Eubank Jr who is in unique in being able to tap into the knowledge of both men.
It was 1994 and 1995 when Eubank Sr and Jones Jr each held versions of the super-middleweight world championship and a collision course was a dream scenario.
On these shores Eubank Sr had emerged unbeaten from a combined four fights with his greatest rivals, Nigel Benn and Michael Watson, meanwhile stateside Jones Jr had brushed aside Bernard Hopkins and James Toney.
It never happened - instead Eubank Sr lost to Steve Collins, and Jones Jr worked his way through the divisions and eventually won a heavyweight title.
"If that fight happened we would both have been hurt because I would have had to go to war with you," Eubank Sr told Jones Jr directly in 2013 on a special edition of Sky Sports' The Gloves Are Off. "You can't beat guys like this."
Eubank Sr acknowledged that Jones Jr was better.
"For me it was never about being the best," Eubank Sr said. "I was happy being one of the best. That was my truth.
"Why would I want to fight Roy Jones Jr in his prime?
"I was spoiled by the fact that Nigel Benn, Michael Watson and I were in a world of our own. So I didn't have to go chasing. I had no ego to fight James Toney or Roy Jones Jr."
It was a startling admission but, in classic Eubank Sr fashion, there was more to it than meets the eye.
Addressing Jones Jr directly he said: "When we met, when Prince Naseem Hamed was fighting in April 2001, I actually said to you: 'Did you actually say that the only person who could give you trouble was Chris Eubank?'"
Jones Jr replied: "Yes."
Eubank Sr: "He said yes."
There was never any bad blood between Eubank Sr and Jones Jr, so much so that almost three decades later their relationship has opened doors for the next generation.
Eubank Jr, basing the next phase of his career in the United States, needed a gym earlier this year. He asked his father to call in a favour. His dad called an old friend.
"The next day I was on a plane," Eubank Jr told Sky Sports.
Jones Jr, whose own career only ended two years ago aged 49, is now training boxers out of his personal gym in Pensacola, Florida. He has worked with two-weight world champions Jessie Vargas and Devon Alexander and now has welcomed Eubank Jr to his inner-circle.
"This new set of eyes and ears is a big thing," Eubank Jr said.
"You can't buy it, you can't pay for it. It's so rare to meet somebody who has this sort of insight."
Eubank Jr has had an unusual method of appointing trainers in his past. In the early days it was father and Ronnie Davies, who guided Eubank Sr's heyday, that were the dominant voices in his ear.
He notoriously trained himself for periods, too.
Then Las Vegas-based Nate Vasquez was in his corner for his most recent two fights - a career-best result against James DeGale and a successful US debut.
But in between those he spent time with Virgil Hunter causing Vasquez to tell Sky Sports at the time: "I don't know if jumping trainers will help him.
"You can't learn if you're jumping trainers from time to time. If you go from trainer to trainer to trainer, it's not good.
"Chris is a pressure fighter and if you change him into a boxer it won't go well for him."
Tellingly, Vasquez told Sky Sports last year: "His style isn't meant to be a boxer like Roy Jones Jr."
We have come full-circle - Jones Jr is now training Eubank Jr and, according to the middleweight contender, Vasquez is welcome to be a part of the corner.
"I definitely think Roy will be a part of Team Eubank moving forwards," Eubank Jr confirmed. "Ronnie and Nate will still be a part of the team, I'm sure.
"But being with Roy now is the right move, for where I'm at in my career.
"He can guide and help but I have to do the work. I have to apply the teachings and win these fights.
"But with Roy there? The extra knowledge and expertise adds extra ammo to my arsenal. I'm excited to see what we can do."