If contests are lost during the build-up to fight night then Billy Joe Saunders has been knocked out.
Throughout the past eight weeks, Chris Eubank Jnr has been articulate, precise with his diction and measured with his mind games. In contrast, Saunders has spat prejudicial remarks, is perpetually flustered and has lost his cool.
Eubank has continually no-showed at press conferences yet finally fulfilled a media obligation earlier this week, by himself, with no entourage and not even his father, Eubank Snr, by his side.
Eubank was in enemy terrain.
It was not his room, not his show – it’s a Frank Warren card – and he was even subjected to the biases of various Warren-supporting internet channels. But he kept his brass and held himself well whilst allowing Saunders to mug himself off.
“That right there is a nervous laugh,” said Eubank, a concussive uppercut of a riposte when it comes to accuracy and aptness, as Saunders attempted to laugh off the challenger’s braggadocio: “If your game-plan is to break my heart then… you may as well give up now, if that’s your game-plan [holds hand in face before over-elaborating laughter].”
Saunders has wasted energy during this promotion, whereas Eubank is treating the triple-crowning middleweight title-holder (British, Commonwealth and European) as just another victim, regardless of status.
East London is filled with a number of industry professionals who back Saunders. He had the amateur pedigree, he has beaten four undefeated fighters as a professional and he is on the cusp of a well-deserved world title shot with the WBO. Saunders has also received class coaching from his days at the Peacock Gym, through to his tenure at the TRAD TKO Gym (which has unfortunately ceased to exist this week) and, most recently, in Marbella, Spain.
Whether he’s in England or abroad there is one constant – coaches, sparring partners and old amateur boxing club team-mates sing off the same hymn sheet… Saunders can move. His footwork is exquisite. As is his speed of hand and his ability to box and move.
As for Eubank, there is little to go off. Many a prospect can look dazzling against ten a penny Eastern European punch bags, but it is the noise created from his sessions with the Mayweathers, his ability to hang with the best of them at high quality spars – notably, with Carl Froch – that has escalated his hype.
Some fighters learn their craft in the amateur scene, others on the job as a pro… for Eubank, it appears he has taken his lessons in the gym and will now be tasked with applying everything he has learned tomorrow evening, at the ExCeL Arena.
Saunders has sold over 3,500 tickets himself and as a bill-topper will have a number of neutrals on his side, also. Whether young Chris can handle the hostile atmosphere, the experience of Saunders and his first 12-rounder all remain to be seen. But if his first big-fight press conference was anything to go by, he has it in him to score a knockout…