Chris Eubank Jr v Anatoly Muratov | Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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Chris Eubank Jr steps into the ring this weekend as the new gem of Sky Sports’ boxing coverage. The broadcaster intends to heavily promote the 30-2 middleweight as one of the flagship attractions of its redesigned fight coverage. The “new generation” faces the end of the Anatoly Muratov submarine, after original opponent Sven Elbir tested positive for the coronavirus.

Eubank Jr is headlining the Wembley Arena card which also features a high-quality European welterweight title contest between David Avanesyan and Liam Taylor, as well as cruiserweight sensation Richard Riakporhe.

It’s easy to see why Sky is betting on Eubank Jr. Not only is his father one of the greatest boxers this country has ever seen, he has built a reputation for himself. He only landed at the top level, losing to Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves and grabbing some very impressive wins. The victories over James DeGale, Arthur Abraham, Matt Korobov and Avni Yildirim suggest that a world title depends on Eubank’s future. He held the little-regarded IBO trinket, as well as the interim WBA title, and is hopeful that a win over Muratov can position him for a shot against WBA Super Champion Ryota Murata or regular champion Erislandy Lara.

Eubank’s opponent, Anatoly Muratov, is ranked seventh in the world by the WBA. The reasons for this are unclear, as it would be charitable to even call his record mediocre. In their last five fights, his three previous opponents have a cumulative record of 1-13-1. A late submarine is a late submarine, and Muratov deserves credit for intervening in the short term. But the WBA doesn’t deserve such credit for having it near its top 10. Of course that’s not Eubank’s concern, you can only fight what’s in front of you. As the WBA’s number one middleweight contender, a win here will only protect his ranking and help him on his way to Lara or Murata.

Besides the innate marketability of a famous boxing son and fighter on the cusp of a world championship, Eubank Jr brings another layer of stardust with him on Saturday. Iconic four-weight world champion Roy Jones Jr will be in Eubank’s corner for the second time, having led him to a 10-round decision against Marcus Morrison in May.

Great fighters don’t always make great coaches, but it’s impossible to be around a ring performer of Jones’ caliber without learning something. One of the best technicians of his time, the fighter they called “Superman” was bordering on untouchable in his glorious pomp. His presence within the Eubank Jr machine makes every stage of the 32-year-old fighter’s career even more fascinating.

Eubank Jr said watching his friend Anthony Joshua take off against Oleksandr Usyk made him more determined to achieve his own dreams in the sport. Despite all his insistence that his two IBO title reigns count as legitimate world championships, deep inside the Brighton boxer knows that is not the case. You don’t have to fight big with Eubank’s hunger in recent years if you feel your job is done. A win over Muratov takes him one giant step closer, and while no victory is a formality, one would expect him to beat Kazakhstani comfortably.

Now completely out of the shadow of his incredible father, Chris Eubank Jr looks like a world away from the 2014 dominated Saunders fighter. He has spoken of wanting revenge for a result that still haunts him, but his friend’s struggles’ AJ ‘should serve as a warning. Don’t look past your next fight. Eubank is expected to make every effort to come back to Muratov’s challenge on Saturday. Then, and only then, will he be able to dream of world titles and a possible rematch of Saunders.

Betfred bid 1/9 on David Avanesyan to beat Liam Taylor on the undercard. Taylor win is 6/1, while you can get 20/1 on a draw.


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