Given that Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn engaged in one of boxing’s most infamous rivalries, one would think that a fight between their sons who became pro boxers themselves was an inevitability. Though that turned out to be the case—the familial disdain and millions of dollars were ultimately too alluring despite a gap in size and experience—this wasn’t the path the fathers laid out for Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn. 

Both fathers and sons present as polar opposites of one another. Nigel was the deeply serious, hard-nosed fighter cut from military cloth. His son Conor has adopted the same personality, oozing ferociousness in the ring and preaching a spartan lifestyle that begins every day at 3:00 AM and doesn’t end until new fitness limits have been reached. Chris Sr. was the perfect foil, a bombastic and eloquent showboat committed to the image of opulence and respectability. Chris Jr. might not wear monocles or three-piece suits like his father, but he inherited the gift of gab, and oozes nonchalant self-belief. 

If the fathers had it their way during their son’s childhood however, they might have never stepped in the ring at all, let alone against one another. Chris Jr. and Conor grew up the sons of famous millionaires, but that’s only the obvious parallel. As different as their fathers may seem, they both erected barriers to at least artificially make the paths they would have to travel just a little bumpier. 

When Chris Eubank Jr. was growing up in a mansion in Brighton, he suspected his father was famous for something, but couldn’t be certain for what. People would ask his father for autographs, he would eat free meals at restaurants and photographers were always lurking around. Somehow, his father was able to hide from him that he was a champion boxer. One night, as Chris Jr. tells it, he was in his friend’s basement and was looking through their family’s VHS collection when he spotted a case with his father on the front. He put the tape in the machine, and there was his father fighting Nigel Benn. 

Eubank Jr., who excelled in track-and-field and swimming, was still discouraged from boxing. He didn’t have an amateur career as a child in the United Kingdom, so he found a way to scratch the fighting itch on the streets. He became involved with a local gang, and would take part in parking lot fights. He told SecondsOut in 2019, “I'd be with all these street kids, doing this street stuff, and I would go home to a $2 million pound mansion.” One of those scraps was caught on camera and sent to the tabloids and across MySpace, which blew his cover to his parents. His father told him that if he truly wanted to fight, he could move to Las Vegas with a guardian named Irene Hutton and learn the hard way. After two years in high school in Nevada, he had his first amateur fight at 18, training under Mike McCallum and Floyd Mayweather Sr. 

Conor Benn’s childhood looked similar to Eubank Jr.’s. He grew up in a mansion in Spain with a jacuzzi tub in his bedroom, a fleet of sportscars in the driveway. Later, the family would move to Australia, where there was precious little evidence of where his father’s fortune had come from in the household. Nigel had sold most of his memorabilia, including many of his title belts. The family was focused primarily on religion, and Conor’s attention veered towards skateboarding and BMX racing. Nigel preached financial independence, so in lieu of an allowance, Conor painted houses for $20 a day. In December of 2021, Conor revealed to the Daily Mail that he was sent to a religious school as a child where he says he was tormented by “cult-like” leaders who told him and his parents that he was possessed by demons, something his deeply religious father accepted. 


“Being told I’m this, I’m that, the world is coming to an end, on New Year’s we were repenting on our hands and knees, the antichrist is coming and the world is coming to an end. I’m a kid, what rubbish are you lot talking about? You’ve ruined so many lives,” Benn told reporter Daniel Matthews.

Benn says it took him a full two years to repair himself psychologically after leaving the school, and about as long to repair his relationship with his father, which smoothed over by the age of 18. But when it was time for Conor to try his hand at boxing, Nigel still wouldn’t make it easy on him. Conor has said that his first experience inside a ring was with his father, and that he left the session with a chipped tooth and a concussion. He persisted, and started his amateur career in Australia. 

The sons of famous rivals each forged a path abroad as an amateur and turned pro with all of the added attention you would expect with their last names. Eubank has spent much of his career at middleweight, while Benn has graduated from prospect to contender at welterweight. On Saturday night they will meet at a catchweight of 157 pounds, Benn jumping up significantly, Eubank dropping down a tiny bit. In the build-up to the fight, they have effectively assumed the same roles their father did. Conor has escaped to the Isle of Wight to train alongside his father, portraying the spartan straight man. Eubank has been the antagonist, suggesting that he only needs to be at “60%” capacity to win the fight, posting videos of him indulging in cake and burgers as proof that he needn’t take the bout that seriously, while at the same time promising to retire if he doesn’t win. 

As a fight, it’s one of the biggest that could be made domestically in the United Kingdom, one that taps into nostalgia and appeals to multiple generations. The subjects themselves perfectly fit into the babyface and heel archetypes, the no-nonsense hard worker and the needling braggart. 

But as different as they may appear, and as badly as they want to beat one another, ultimately they’re two of the only people who can truly understand each other and how exactly they got to stand face to face with one another this weekend. 

Corey Erdman is a boxing writer and commentator based in Toronto, ON, Canada. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman