Eubank Jr is helping Jones Jr prepare to face Tyson
Thursday 17 September 2020 09:51, UK
Chris Eubank Jr knows the threat Roy Jones Jr retains, having felt his spiteful punches, and Mike Tyson might approach his comeback foe with caution.
Deceptive smiles are quickly replaced by determined glares as Eubank Jr trades thunderous punches with trainer Jones Jr in body sparring, a session which restricts blows to around the belt line, but neither man is holding back in a hurtful test of durability and precision.
Eubank Jr, the WBA 'interim' middleweight champion, has spent countless weeks at the headquarters of Jones Jr, a grandiose farm in Pensacola where he has refined his all-action style for a major return fight on US soil in the coming months.
But the Brit occasionally assumes the role of 'Iron Mike' Tyson in spars with Jones Jr, who is steeling himself for an unexpected return, an exhibition fight with the still imposing heavyweight on November 28.
"He's definitely still got it. He's still got the power, he's still got the speed, so you have to be careful, that's for sure," says Eubank Jr who respectfully acknowledges the flickering skills that still reignite in the fists of his coach, a former four-weight world champion.
Jones Jr has passed on his tutelage to Eubank Jr, the son of his former rival Chris Eubank Snr, as he smoothed off the edges of the exciting contender in preparation for the world title stage, a platform he knows better than most.
But hours alongside Eubank Jr, rehearsing precise punches, have reset the ticking clock in Jones Jr, who is relishing the countdown to his first scheduled bout for two years, albeit a showcase for two legends rather than an unbridled battle.
"Man, with training these guys like Chris Eubank, they inspire me to get my mind going," said Jones Jr. "They're so good already, but you've got to take their mind to another level. You've got to take them somewhere they haven't been yet, or you can't really train them.
"When they do it, they also awaken me. Things that I forgot, that I don't do anymore. It turns me back into a better fighter, because it made me remember things that I did once upon a time."
Even at 51, Jones Jr still has a muscle-bound physique that is maintained by regular training, whereas Tyson's frame has only recently been chiselled back into shape following a turbulent lifestyle that had led to excessive weight gain.
Eubank Jr has witnessed the dedication of his mentor since taking the brave decision to relocate his life to Florida in a bid to gain the knowledge needed for an expected fight with WBC middleweight king Jermall Charlo.
But what words would son pass on to father if Chris Sr sought a return to the sport, which had been considered in the past by the 54-year-old conqueror of two weight classes.
"Get in shape, if you're going to do it," said Eubank Jr. "That's the thing about Roy, is he's been living this life, he didn't stop.
"Most fighters once they retire, that's it. Roy has always been in the gym, so it's easier for him to then get back into the swing of things, whereas guys like my father, or Mike, who are not in the gym regularly. It's harder for them to get back into it.
"My father isn't in the gym like that, so if he was going to do it, be in the gym, keep yourself in the gym for a good solid year before you start doing anything crazy."
Jones Jr knows the prospect of him swinging shots with Tyson is outlandish enough, admitting that he might be significantly lighter than a man who instilled fear throughout the top division.
Fighters rarely ignore their instincts, particularly a ruthless finisher like Tyson, and Jones Jr refused to rule out the possibility of him responding with a knockout blow, if the restrictions of an exhibition are broken.
"When it comes time to fight, we're going to fight. If it comes down to bite, we're going to bite. Whatever has to happen, is going to happen, that's just what it is.
"He's still Mike Tyson, he's still one of the strongest, most explosive people who ever touched a boxing ring. If anything, I made a mistake going in with him. He's the bigger guy, he's the explosive guy.
"He's going to have all the first-round fireworks, not me. I do have first-round fireworks, but he's known for more first-round fireworks than anybody to ever touch boxing, other than maybe George Foreman.
"With him having the first-round fireworks, he'll be against a guy smaller than him, maybe 40-50 pounds smaller than him."
Most tellingly, Jones Jr adds: "But who knows?"
Jones Jr set new physical boundaries, whether he was overwhelming James Toney at super-middleweight with blurring speed, or ripping a world heavyweight title from John Ruiz, but eventually found out his limitations while suffering losses in his advancing years.
In a few months, he will showcase that remaining talent against Tyson, then resume his training duties with Eubank Jr, a willing student.
"That's the good thing about Roy," said Eubank Jr. "He does know how to teach and there is that respect.
"With Roy, I know 100 per cent what he is saying is tried and tested, and true.
"When he tells me to do something, I don't question it for a second, I just do it."
If Jones Jr gets his way, then he will command a bit more respect from Tyson, after they have exchanged blows.