The stage is set for a pivotal chapter in Chris Eubank Jr's career

Over a decade into his professional career, Eubank Jr has earned plenty of respect but still has much to prove when he steps into the lion's den to take on Liam Williams in Cardiff this weekend

GB About: Chris Eubank Jr Publish: 02/13/2022 Edit: 02/13/2022 Author: Gardener

Chris Eubank Jr'sFrom his defiant beginnings in Brighton, where he broke the weight of his last name in wild sparring sessions, to the unforgiving gyms of Las Vegas and the solitude on a farm in rural Florida, Chris Eubank Jr.'s career has always been of marked by doubts. After all, heritage in boxing can be both a gift and a curse, reviving memories and offering a lucrative rite of passage, only for its path to be littered with far more scrutiny. That Eubank Jr. is still a headline attraction well over a decade into his pro career is testament to the fact that his talent has always been more than just a birthright. And yet, for all his bravery and showmanship - two traits that are passed down very strongly, minus the monocle and breeches - the 32-year-old still remains an enigma. The momentum of his best-ever win over a dwindling James DeGale in February 2019 has been wiped out by the pandemic, and the flaws in Eubank's losses to Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves remain unrebutted. And when he takes on Wales' Liam Williams in a hostile atmosphere in Cardiff on Saturday night, it feels like a pivotal night in what is likely to be the final act of his career that will either reveal his full potential or condemn it to an illusion. Few are as aware of this fact as Eubank, and while his ego remains firmly intact, it is now more of a pose than outright arrogance. As the breakthrough star, much fuss was made about his apparent reluctance to listen to his coach Ronnie Davies, or even give him due respect, while Eubank Sr. basked in the spotlight without offering much wisdom in the corner. As a result, his style was a storm of aggression, a barrage of punches that could blow away weaker opponents, and often in spectacular fashion. But compared to more refined Olympians who had spent hundreds of hours honing their technique, Eubank was made to look gross and clumsy. Williams at Thursday's Cardiff press conference (PA Wire) Humiliated enough to see the mistake that way, he has now spent the last two years training under Roy Jones Jr, one of boxing's true artists. After the pandemic hit, he relocated to Jones' farm outside of Pensacola so as not to disrupt her training, determined to make the most of what was left of his career. "I didn't have to do that, but if I wanted to learn from Master, I had to be there," Eubank said. We knew that all those years when he was the No. 1 boxer in the world. While Eubank asked for advice, he was provided with the perfect platform to display them. He has been positioned as the poster child of Sky Sports' post-Eddie Hearn era, with the channel's lucrative pay-per-view model certainly poised to attract a big-name opponent later in the year. After what little we've seen so far, two warm-ups against lean opponents, Eubank's punches were noticeably more measured and patient. "It's not about going to war every time anymore," Eubank said after boxing Marcus Morrison to a ten-round decision last May. "It's about being smart and not getting hit." But whether those improvements will remain intact against Williams remains another matter entirely. The Welshman can be a tough and spiteful character, showing plenty of personal animosity towards Eubank, but his boxing is more than just mean spirit. He may have come up short at the highest level, most recently against WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade, but he will be persistent and dirty, head in and desperate to lunge at any holes in Eubank's defense. Adam Booth, best known for leading the rise of David Haye, has worked with Eubank in the past and will know his weaknesses on scrutiny. The presence of new coaches could prompt different approaches, but the commitment and hostility will likely soon lure Eubank and Williams back into old habits. In theory, however, melee combat should benefit Eubank's faster reflexes.

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