Wednesday, November 30, 2022  |



Billy Joe Saunders: That loss will damage Chris Eubank Jr.

Billy Joe Saunders celebrates defeating Chris Eubank Jr. via split decision to retain the British European and Commonwealth middleweight titles on Nov. 29, 2014 in London, England. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Billy Joe Saunders celebrates defeating Chris Eubank Jr. via split decision to retain the British European and Commonwealth middleweight titles on Nov. 29, 2014 in London, England. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images


British middleweight Billy Joe Saunders (21-0, 11 knockouts) told this reporter, prior to facing Chris Eubank Jr., that he required a “cross over fight”. The 2008 Olympian was unbeaten and the proud owner of British, Commonwealth and European titles, but he lacked the acclaim and name recognition of a future world title challenger.

On Saturday night, in London, England, Saunders indeed crossed over with a split decision victory and, despite the close nature of the official verdict, his mission was accomplished. The main event at the Excel Arena was a heavyweight rematch between Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora but, for weeks prior to the show taking place, Saunders-Eubank was the talk of British boxing and casual fans were taking notice.

Saunders, THE RING’s No.10-rated middleweight, had taken umbrage at Eubank’s taunts for months prior to the bout being signed and had a lot to lose. Eubank, unbeaten but untested, carries the same name as his father but, despite being undeniably talented, the bombastic hype machine which comes with him was threatening to explode and bring an end to civilization.

Eubank Sr., now acting as promoter, manager and advisor for his 25-year-old offspring, proclaimed “The Next Generation” as the most talented fighter since Sugar Ray Leonard and also forecast that his son could defeat WBA titleholder Gennady Golovkin. Only Andre Ward, THE RING champion at 168 pounds, could tame this young tiger, according to Eubank Sr., and even then, it would be by decision.

Yes, he actually said all of that.

It was up to Billy Joe Saunders to bring a dash of realism to proceedings and his experience at a higher level proved decisive. The winner of Andy Lee and Matt Korobov, who meet for the vacant WBO middleweight crown in Las Vegas on Dec. 13, could be next for the seasoned southpaw who is still reveling in his most prominent victory. spoke to Saunders about the feud, the fight and the future. The right jab was working wonders over the first six rounds. What makes Eubank open for that shot?

Billy Joe Saunders: That’s the key weapon for a boxer. I’ve got an extremely good jab, so I decided to use it and it won me the first six rounds in my opinion. The jab worked perfectly and I was setting up my other shots off of it.


RTV: Eubank became more effective in the second half of the fight. What changed?

BJS: The first six rounds were so easy that I became a bit complacent. I’d out boxed him so I thought I’d slug it out because the fans were all behind me. Sometimes it’s nice to give the fans a show, so that’s what I did.


Photo by Julian Finney / Getty Images

Photo by Julian Finney / Getty Images

RTV: You took some of the very best shots Eubank could muster. How did you rate his power?

BJS: Eubank Jr. is not the hardest puncher I’ve been in there with, so his dad talks absolute rubbish. Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan hits harder than him. The guy can punch but he caught me with his best and couldn’t drop me. As I’ve said before, my chin is really good and I was going nowhere.


RTV: Were you nervous when a split decision was announced or had you been tipped off that you had won the fight?

BJS: No, I knew in my heart that I’d won. When I heard the card favoring Eubank 116-113, I couldn’t believe it. What fight was that judge watching? This is the kind of thing that messes up a fighter’s career and it should be looked in to. I won the fight, and that’s all that matters, but even the judges who favored me had it closer than it actually was.


RTV: Your trainer, Jimmy Tibbs, kept you motivated during the fight whereas Eubank’s corner has come under close scrutiny for a lack of organization. What did you think when you watched the fight back?

BJS: Jimmy picked me up at different stages of that fight. I wasn’t really paying attention to whether I was winning or losing rounds, because I was concentrating on the game plan. When Jimmy told me to work harder I responded and let my hands go. The Eubank corner was embarrassing. His trainer (Ronnie Davies) said “get out there and beat f__k out of him!” when he was losing. What kind of corner work is that? Then, later in the fight, Eubank told him to shut up. As I said, it was embarrassing but Eubank did say at a press conference that he doesn’t need a trainer. What a load of crap.


RTV: You displayed sportsmanship after the fight but the ill-feeling has returned. Was that because Eubank failed to acknowledge the defeat?

BJS: Immediately after the fight he told me he’d lost and now he’s saying that he won. I’m not respecting someone who has no respect for anyone else. He’s had Ronnie Davies around him for years and didn’t even show Ronnie respect. I’ve beaten him and it’s time to move on with my career. My world title shot is intact and I’m over the moon.


RTV: Eubank did impress some people in defeat. What does he need to change going forward in your opinion?

BJS: You saw the best of Eubank that night. Some people learn from a loss but Eubank is too ignorant for that. This loss will damage him because it’ll have a negative effect on his confidence. He thought he was the iron man that nobody could touch, but now he knows he’s beatable. His future opponents won’t watch him blasting people out, they’ll be watching my fight with him. The loss might help Eubank in some ways, but I doubt it.


RTV: What’s next for Billy Joe Saunders? Is it a world title shot or can you see yourself staying busy with one more fight?

BJS: I’ll have a talk with Frank (Warren) and decide where to go from there. I’ve got the winner of Lee and Korobov, so I’m looking forward to watching that fight.



Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing