I used to write for a column in the Cardiff University student newspaper sports pages called “Jockstrap: Squeezing the balls of sport” and for this one – in 1997, I think – chose to focus on one of my favourite sportsmen, Chris Eubank. Slightly embarrassed now by all the speech impediment jokes – think I must have been watching A Fish Called Wanda.
“The last decade has been a great one for British middleweight boxing; Herol Graham, Michael Watson, Nigel Benn… Strutting after them into the spotlight Chris Eubank, the man with the monocle, has outshone them all.
Promoting himself as the ‘thinking man’s fighter’, Eubank always contended that the fighting game was one for ‘savages’ and that he intended to get out early. He emerged as the ultimate showman, calling himself ‘the Mathter’ and perfecting a Lion’s roar. Spectacular music and light shows heralded his entry to the arena before an acrobatic leap over the ropes. The crowd waited for him to fall flat on his face but he never obliged. Once inside the ropes he would begin to shuffle and dance around his opponent, trying to give the impression that every punch was an intellectual statement.
The irony was that, as a ‘Fancy Dan’ boxer, Eubank was a disaster. His considerable success was won by his boundless determination, granite jaw and hammer punch; he was the ultimate brawler. This was evident in his epic – and ultimately tragic – second bout with Watson. Out-boxed throughout, Eubank held on and eventually flattened the exhausted challenger with a devastating uppercut.
Out of the ring Eubank eagerly pushed his claims as one of the greatest thinkers of the century. He addressed the Oxford Union and spoke for longer than anyone else in its entire history; longer than Churchill, Gorbachev or even Vinnie Jones! Proud to (twice) win the title of Britain’s best-dressed man thanks to his sharp suits, walking cane and monocle, Chris has always made sure he is noticed; he recently traded his Harley Davidson and white-leather flying helmet for a 16-wheel juggernaut that stopped rush-hour traffic in central London!
Chris’s greatest moment came when presenting Top of the Pops. Rumour has it that he was only asked after the top 10 was known; his hilarious countdown was crowned with “… and at number thicth ith Thuggth with Thethilia” (number six, Suggs, Cecilia!).
On his recent ring comeback, Eubank was outclassed in losing to the impressive young Welshman Joe Calzaghe. All his old courage was there, though, as he bravely traded with the powerful new star for 12 rounds.
When he was taunted by Naseem Hamed he responded by squaring up to the Prince and sticking a newspaper in his mouth. He told the media: “Natheem ith nothing but a bully. You mutht thtand up to bullieth.” There are years of entertainment left in the great Eubank road show; we thalute the greateth living Englithman!”