For the longest time, Chris Eubank Jr. trained by himself, toiling as a solo artist in the gym during his developmental days doing as he pleased.
Although he had his father in two-division champion Chris Eubank to offer guidance as needed, he never really enlisted the services of a trainer to show him the necessary scripts of the sweet science.
“I was just staying fit, hitting the mitts, sparring and fighting. It worked, but at the elite level you need someone who’s with you 24/7. Someone who knows the game,” Eubank Jr. told BoxingScene.com in an interview.
The 30-year-old Englishman Eubank Jr. (29-2, 22 KOs) lives and trains in Las Vegas now under the watchful eye of coach Nate Vazquez, most recently during his U.S. debut in December in a second round TKO win over Matvey Korobov.
On Feb. 28 during a boxing card at Sam’s Town in Las Vegas, Eubank Jr. connected with Hall of Fame fighter-turned-trainer Roy Jones Jr.
Mere days later, the entire country was on lockdown due to Covid-19. Eubank Jr. couldn’t go back home in the U.K. because coronavirus was just as dangerous there.
He soon realized he’d struggle to find a stable home to fine tune his craft in a responsible setting. Then something suddenly clicked. Perhaps that meeting with Jones had a little bit more meat to it.
Jones has a ranch and private gym at his home in Pensacola, Florida. It painted a potential perfect situation for isolation and social distancing for Eubank Jr., all while using newfound time to soak up game from an all-time great. His father called Jones Jr., arranged for a meeting of the minds to take place and his son was on a flight that same night from Sin City to the Sunshine State.
From a dim and dark Las Vegas, Eubank Jr.’s life lit up to being cooped up with Jones and his chickens, roosters, peacocks and dogs, as well as a gun range for target practice and a lake for fishing.
“I just had this epiphany, and took advantage of the newfound opportunity,” said Eubank Jr. “I don’t want to say the coronavirus pandemic was a blessing in disguise. It would be disrespectful for people who are going through tough times. But if it wasn’t for coronavirus, I wouldn’t be out here. Now that I’m here, I found the training and the trainer that I’ve been looking for. I’ve learned so much already over a short period of time. I think Roy and I will be a great team moving forward.”
Eubank Jr. said he hasn’t made the official arrangement with Jones yet, but some things go unsaid in the sport, especially with the amount of time they’ve shared as a tandem.
“I’ve been with him every day since mid-March and we are getting along really well,” said Eubank Jr. “I don’t see how this relationship doesn’t move forward once everything comes back to normal. I don’t see myself not training with him now. So, I think it’s going to be an official thing. I need him around a lot more. He definitely adds a lot to my game that I was missing. I’m mad that I didn’t meet him early on in my career. Him and Vazquez together in the mix will make a dangerous concoction.”
Eubank Jr. said in a few short weeks, he’s already had a lot of “a-ha moments” with Jones that leads him to believe that he’s ready to break out for a title opportunity and fight any champion at 160 pounds — Canelo Alvarez, Gennadiy Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade and Jermall Charlo chief on his hit list.
“Roy is one of the best fighters ever and someone that I looked up to. I always watched him throughout my career,” said Eubank Jr. “Every few days, I have a holy s— moment and ‘why didn’t I think of that? Why wasn’t I practicing this more?’ It’s a dangerous cycle for fighters to go through the motions and not learn anything. Roy makes you think. There’s a reason behind the drills and the punches. It’s all fight related.
“I was surprised to see how dedicated he is and how much time he takes to explain things. I never would have thought that someone like him, who’s a legend in the game, could be a real trainer. He really gets involved.”
Eubank Jr. said Jones has grown on him because he doesn’t teach him anything that he wouldn’t be able to use in the ring. They’ve been spending time together retooling combinations, speed and footwork.
“He’s very practical with what he teaches,” said Eubank Jr. “I haven’t had anyone around me like Roy. He gets the type of person and fighter I am. I love when a trainer understands me. His fighting style was very athletic and filled with energy and foot movement — that’s all me. I never really had anyone that was able to understand the type of things that I was trying to do until I met Roy.”