“Is this real life? How is this happening? How have we come to this?”
Chris Eubank Jr’s thoughts on Saturday nights ‘Battle of the Baddest’ between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou were shared by the entire boxing world.
Eubank Jr’s team are still embroiled in talks about a fight with Conor Benn. Speaking to SecondsOut, Eubank Jr confirmed that the fight seems likely to happen but refused to be drawn on when or where it will take place - although January 2024 seems to be favored at the moment - but events in Riyadh certainly took his mind off contract negotiations for a couple of hours.
In January, Liam Smith stopped Eubank Jr for the first time in his career. Eubank Jr used the experience to fuel his comeback and eight months later he turned the tables, stopping Smith in ten one sided rounds. WBC heavyweight champion, Fury, may have escaped with a split decision victory and his unbeaten record intact but Eubank Jr feels like he has to follow suit and use the disappointment and criticism as motivation if he is to redeem himself in an undisputed heavyweight title clash with WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO title holder, Oleksandr Usyk.
“Tyson obviously underprepared. Too much time filming Netflix documentaries I’m guessing because he didn’t look like anything in there,” Eubank Jr said. “He wasn’t active, he wasn’t imposing his size or boxing ability. A guy who’s never had a fight before going in there and being able to compete or sometimes dominate rounds is insane. For that reason Fury deserved to lose I think.
“I think that that will probably light a fire up under his arse. ‘Ok, I need to get my stuff together because if I go in there with Usyk like I was against Ngannou, there’s no way I can win.’
“Now, I think Fury is probably an underdog.”
And how about Ngannou? After one of the most impressive debuts in boxing history, the former UFC champion finds himself as one of the most talked about heavyweight boxers on the planet. Earlier in the year, Ngannou signed a lucrative deal with the PFL which allows him to continue his MMA career and also compete in boxing. Ngannou will attract a massive audience no matter which sport he chooses to compete in but a rematch with Fury or fights with the likes of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder would be blockbuster events. Ngannou is 37 years old and will have some big decisions to make. Eubank Jr believes he should pursue a career in the ring.
“Push for the rematch. I think everybody would want to see it,” he said. “I think now he has a claim to be in the mix with the top heavyweights in the division after what happened. I would say to stay in boxing. People want to see him.
“For what he did against Tyson Fury who’s supposed to be number one, I guess you kind of have to rank him in the top five.”