Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn face off at opening press conference
Sparks were always going to fly when these two came together.
Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn met at a press conference on Friday to officially announce their 12-round catchweight showdown, which takes place at the O2 Arena in London on Oct. 8.
The bout will be contested at 157 pounds, but the details of a rehydration clause were not disclosed.
In the early 1990s, both men’s fathers threw down in a pair of British boxing classics. Chris Eubank won the first encounter (TKO 9) to emerge as the WBO middleweight champion. The second bout, a unification clash at super middleweight, was a draw that many felt Nigel Benn should have won.
Eubank Jr., who is rated No. 6 The Ring at middleweight, is a 32-year-old boxer-puncher and a former world title challenger at 168 pounds. The Brighton star holds wins over Arthur Abraham, James DeGale and Liam Williams. He will be dropping down to his lowest weight in several years.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before in the history of the sport,” said Eubank Jr. (32-2, 23 KOs). “Two legends went into a ring 30 years ago and inspired a nation. They became superstars and etched their names into not just boxing history – but British history.
“Now, 30 years later, their sons, who have both made themselves in the sport of boxing, are gonna get in the ring. The Eubank-Benn name is going to go to war for the third time. Nothing like this has ever happened before and I don’t think it will happen again – ever. That’s why I took this fight.
“The hype train around [Benn] is full steam ahead. He has momentum and he has highlight reel knockout wins. He’s doing a lot for himself in the sport and he’s been able to get himself into the position where this fight is accepted by the British public. He is big enough now, physically and profile-wise.”
The 25-year-old Benn, who is rated No. 9 by The Ring at welterweight, carries the reputation of a knockout artist and his boxing IQ has improved dramatically since he turned pro in 2016. The Ilford, Essex man will be moving up for the first time in his career.
“This fight makes sense for now – the world title is still the goal,” said Benn (21-0, 14 KOs). “This is once in a lifetime, this is a fantasy fight for the British public. Forget about how far apart we were when I turned pro, Eubank was still mentioned to me. It’s just been brewing and the stars have aligned.
“We’ve both fought the same road. I respect all fighters, but when we get in there, we settle the family business, and I’m settling the family business. The last fight (between the fathers) was a draw and it’s time for me to set the record straight.”
After a respectful beginning to the press conference, the pair began trading barbs over the fight negotiations, the weight and the rehydration clause. Those debates stopped short of getting ugly but tensions were high.
“I still can’t really believe [the fight is happening],” said Benn’s Matchroom promoter, Eddie Hearn. “This is an absolute monster, the biggest fight in British boxing, perhaps one of the biggest ever in the sport in this country.”
“It’s not a heavyweight world championship fight, it’s not a unification, it’s not a special grudge match, this is a family feud,” said Kalle Sauerland, Head of Wasserman Boxing, which represents Eubank Jr. “This fight reaches a demographic that have nothing to do with boxing anymore. You don’t need to sell it. These gladiators have fought their way out of their father’s legacies.”
Tom Gray is managing editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing