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'Chris Eubank Jr is at his fighting peak but clash against Liam Williams is a must-win'

'Chris Eubank Jr is at his fighting peak but clash against Liam Williams is a must-win'

Most of Chris Eubank Jr's fights in the last three or four years have been must-win.

Against Liam Williams in Cardiff on Saturday, in front of 8,000 people, it's probably the most must-win of all of his must-win fights.

Although it will not be an easy night's work and almost a 50-50 encounter, I fancy Eubank Jr to be victorious. At 32, he's relatively young, not marked up, worn or weary and one of the leading middleweights in the world.

With all his years of experience, I think this Eubank Jr right now is the best there ever has been.

He is at his fighting peak.

Like father, like son

When Eubank Jr was first circulating in gyms before turning professional, I knew this kid was more than just a son of a famous father.

I knew he was ambitious. He kept popping up and you would hear training and sparring stories. Good fighters were telling me how strong he was.

Chris Eubank Sr wore a monocle, drove a Harley Davidson or a big fancy truck and came out with some ridiculous sayings. It was all part of the image, a caricature, and we often mistook the monocle for the fighter.

Much like his flamboyant dad, Eubank Jr is also showman. You will see him at red carpet events, he always looks beautifully presented and has a fabulous house.

But that is all show - the real Chris Eubank Jr puts in the most ridiculous shifts and sessions and prepares himself.

One thing anybody will tell you about him, even George Groves and Billy Joe Saunders who have both beaten him, is how good his engine is.

At the start of his career in 2011, he was criticised for struggling to creep out from underneath his dad's shadow. Then five years ago it changed and critics would say he hasn't achieved what he said he would.

Well, you cannot have it both ways. He's either a good fighter who is a privileged son or he's a guy who didn't quite reach the heights.

Learning from losses

The loss to Saunders came at London's Excel Arena in November 2014 - an awfully long time ago. Saunders was 20-0 and Eubank was 18-0. It was a phenomenal fight, with the British, European and Commonwealth middleweight titles on the line, and the build-up was incredible.

I comfortably gave five rounds to each fighter so it was no surprise it was a split decision at the end. The two rounds in the middle could have gone either way. If Eubank nicked it, I wouldn't have screamed.

Eubank Jr then pursued interim belts and the less coveted IBO title, whereas Saunders went more down a more traditional WBO route and stayed unbeaten until he mixed it with Mexico's Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.

Did Eubank miss an opportunity to kick off between 2014 and 2018? He may have made a few mistakes but no, not really, because he lost the fight by split decision and one fight can change a life. It was a crossroads fight.

Almost four years ago, Eubank Jr lost to then WBA super-middleweight champion Groves in the World Boxing Super Series.

I thought George was a clear winner that night but, again, I think Eubank Jr will have learned a lot; particularly from Groves' own rollercoaster journey to world-title glory.

Subtle tweaks from legendary Jones Jr

Eubank Jr has boxing royalty in the form of American former four-weight world champion Roy Jones Jr in his corner.

What good fighters need when they are already established and heading into the last few years of their career is a little bit of tweaking. That is what Roy will do.

He is not going to tear him up and build him again but just maybe subtle changes. Maybe loop the left hand a little bit sharper or step to the right to let the right hand go.

But the important thing when experienced fighters get a new coach is that these two fit. Roy likes what he sees and Eubank loves working with him.

There was a point in late 2020 when Eubank Jr had not left Pensacola in Florida for seven months. He was stranded because of Covid travel restrictions in Jones' home and they got to know each other very well.

They now act like two guys who have been in the gym working together for 11 years, not guys thrown together less than two years ago.

Don't be fooled by Williams' record

With all the praise I've given Eubank Jr, the match-up with Williams is brilliant.

Williams has lost fights in the past and was recently defeated by WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade in a world-title fight last year. But the Welshman is a danger at any time.

If you check social media or boxing records online, you can often get a false comparison. The records suggest Eubank Jr is miles better than Williams.

But in the two losses to Liverpool's Liam Smith, Williams shared some bad-tempered, vicious, nasty rounds. Those rounds make a fighter.

Against American Andrade, he was still chasing the champion around the ring after being dropped.

Williams also has home advantage. Eubank and his dad have both dismissed that as a false notion which means nothing to them, but I can assure you the audience in Cardiff are going to be raucous, hostile and it is going to be unpleasant.

Eubank-Saunders II is the sexy fight

Should Eubank Jr be victorious on Saturday, there are enough champions for him to fight next.

There could be a world title fight for Eubank on the horizon. Andrade could vacate and that might create a gap; Erislandy Lara is there with the WBA version; Jermall Charlo has the WBC belt. Eubank could win any of those titles.

The sexy fight is to somehow get Saunders back for a much overdue rematch. They were meant to fight in 2015 but it fell through.

That's the big one and will be a monster outdoor battle. In a year of enormous fights in Great Britain, Eubank-Saunders II may just be a contender for the best one.

If Eubank Jr loses on points to Williams in a hard fight, there is no shame in it. But if he were to be stopped somehow, if Williams finds a bit of power, then Eubank Jr will have to look hard and fast going forward.

The real problem then would be that he would not only lose a fight on one night, he'll lose his money power.

He doesn't want to see zeroes taking off his next payday. And that is motivation enough for him to win.

Steve Bunce was speaking to BBC Sport's Kal Sajad.

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