Tuesday, February 07, 2023  |



Chris Eubank Jr. shows growth with 12th-round TKO of Dmitry Chudinov

Chris Eubank Jr. (right) battered Dmitry Chudinov on his way to a 12th-round TKO at the O2 Arena on Feb. 28 in London. Photo by Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

Chris Eubank Jr. (right) battered Dmitry Chudinov on his way to a 12th-round TKO at the O2 Arena on Feb. 28 in London. Photo by Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

Despite the bauble attached to this evening’s fight, Chris Eubank Jr. is not a world middleweight champion. Nor, you could argue, is he yet a bonafide world-class 160 pounder. He is, however, as proven on Saturday against WBA interim beltholder Dmitry Chudinov, a supremely talented young fighter with a bright future ahead of him.

Three months after losing his unbeaten record to fellow Briton Billy Joe Saunders, the 25-year-old Brighton-native exorcised the demons in the best way possible at London’s O2 Arena. He stepped back in at a similar level, against a fringe world-class opponent in Chudinov, and proceeded to tick some of the boxes that remained un-ticked following the Saunders defeat. He started fast, he was active, he was aggressive and he closed the show superbly in the 12th and final round. Chudinov, stopped with less than 50 seconds to go in the fight, was caught in a whirlwind.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Eubank Jr., though. In fact, despite the one-sided nature of the fight – at least in terms of rounds, all of which were swept by the home favourite – Chudinov, 14-1-2 (9 knockouts), refused to be dominated in any individual round. He’d ensure he was with Eubank Jr. every step of the way, punching with him, working with him, and always looking for gaps. Indeed, he landed solid left hooks and overhand rights, especially in the early rounds, and had Eubank Jr, 19-1 (14 KOs), looking flustered and disorganised at times.

But those moments were brief and sporadic and, for the most part, Eubank Jr. was a picture of control and maturity. He was relaxed in close and his quicker hands enabled him to get off more frequently than Chudinov. Uppercuts were well-picked and combinations slowly unlocked the import’s high-held guard.

Snap deserted Chudinov’s shots by the halfway mark and his feet also slowed. This allowed Eubank Jr. to put on something of a defensive masterclass in round six, during which he evaded countless Chudinov swings, and it subsequently furthered the gap between the two of them down the stretch.

If Chudinov’s lack of defence was the initial cause of his downfall, it only worsened as cuts around his eyes began to accumulate. He picked up the first, under his left eyebrow, in the second round, and then collected a second in the ninth round, this time by his right eye. Now he was fighting through a fog. Now Eubank’s shots were hitting his chin, cheeks and forehead, rather than gloves and arms. Now the writing was on the wall.

Still the Russian chugged forward, though. He wasn’t going to fold easily. The 28 year old had never before lost as a pro, let alone been stopped. He’d take some shifting.

Of course, given the presumed one-sided nature of the scorecards, interest in the fight was now solely centered on whether Eubank Jr. could force the stoppage before the final bell. Did he punch hard enough to halt a man he had abused with power shots for much of the contest? For a while, it looked unlikely. Both frequently traded at centre ring, and Eubank Jr. landed plenty, but never once did Chudinov seem remotely hurt by anything, nor did he appear in any kind of trouble.

That was until he copped a big left hook in Round 12, however. This time he was hurt. Tired, too. He covered up, forgot to punch back, and succumbed to a furious volley of punches – the kind of barrage that seemed never likely to end – before being rescued by hesitant referee Mikael Hook with 49 seconds to go.

Eubank Jr.’s desire to close the show when so far ahead on the cards was mightily impressive. It said a lot about the young man’s mindset. And it meant far more than the WBA interim title he won for his efforts.