Chris Eubank Jr is no stranger to a high-pressure domestic dust-up fuelled by stinging insults and bad blood.
Next Saturday night at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, he will settle his bitter feud with Wales’ Liam Williams, the former world middleweight title challenger he fails to see eye-to-eye with.
Though when it comes to hostile grudge matches, Eubank has been there, done that, got the t-shirt. The 32-year-old’s cocksure, abrasive persona, coupled with his flashy fighting style, has gained him plenty of enemies over the years.
The showdown with Williams simply offers a familiar shot at bragging rights, something he has not always managed to attain. Ahead of his latest conflict, Sportsmail takes a look back at Eubank’s three defining rivalries so far.
Chris Eubank Jr (left) is set to face domestic foe Liam Williams (right) next Saturday night
Loss vs Billy Joe Saunders
The first of Eubank’s domestic foes remains his most despised. Saunders, the outspoken traveller with 20 victories under his belt at the time, had a clear disdain for his opponent’s boastful demeanor and let him know as much during a spicy build-up to their November 2014 bout.
And somewhat foreign to Eubank up until that point, here he also had a fighter in front of him who matched his confidence in getting the victory.
‘Chris is gonna knock me out,’ Saunders sarcastically quipped at the pre-fight press conference. ‘Listen, he said he’s gonna knock me out in his fairyland world.
‘But in his own head deep down, he knows what’s gonna happen. He knows. He knows he’s not ready for me.’
Eubank is no stranger to a grudge match, having also shared a feud with Billy Joe Saunders
Eubank, unbeaten in his 18-fight career at the time, responded: ‘It’s gonna be a serious shock [for you]. It’s one thing to talk about a shark, it’s a completely different thing to swim with them. And you’re gonna have to swim very, very fast to even come close to beating me on the night.’
When the two arch-enemies eventually collided at London’s ExCeL Arena, Saunders clearly took heed of Eubank’s words by making the exact kind of swift start he was dreading.
In an impressive first half of the contest, the Hatfield-born fighter bamboozled Eubank with his ramrod jab, quick hands and superior footwork to storm into an early lead.
After coming off second best in the opening rounds Eubank upped the ante as the contest reached its second half. His previously one-dimensional attacks quickly transformed into successful, educated pressure and Saunders, who faded down the stretch, was troubled at times.
But it was Saunders who prevailed when they first collided back in November 2014
Yet despite his ropey finish, it was Saunders who got the all-important decision after 12 fascinating rounds with his adversary. He prevailed via split-decision (115-113, 115-112, 113-116) to retain his British, European and Commonwealth titles and sweep up the most satisfying of bragging rights.
There was a incredibly brief handshake between the two men afterwards, but they remain bitter rivals to this day, with a rematch potentially on the cards next year.
Loss vs George Groves
Almost three years later, Eubank received a world-title shot up at super-middleweight after bouncing back from his first pro loss to record eight straight victories.
The Brighton man was competing in the World Boxing Super Series tournament at 168lbs and, having brutally knocked out Avni Yildirim in the previous round, found himself matched with fellow Brit and WBA champion Groves in the semi-final.
He wasted no time in goading Groves, shouting to reporters after their first face-off: ‘I smell the fear! It stinks of fear up here!’
There was no love lost between Eubank and George Groves when they squared off in 2018
Eubank goaded Groves on several occasions before his first world-title opportunity
Groves, who outranked Eubank in terms of experience after fighting Carl Froch in front of 80,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium, refused to be drawn into his younger adversary’s mind games and, as he did so often in the lead-up to their contest, laughed off his jibes.
And in the end it was he who laughed last, as in a one-sided affair at the Manchester Arena, Groves put on a boxing clinic to cruise to a comfortable points win, albeit after hanging on in the final round when he dislocated his shoulder, and deliver Eubank’s second career defeat.
Like he had done for the entirety of his pro journey, Eubank ventured into his first world-title bout with no official trainer in both his training camp and corner. Legendary father Chris Sr was the main voice geeing him up on the night, while the ex-world champion’s old coach Ronnie Davies was also on hand with snippets of advice to a young fighter who thought he knew best.
In the end he was outclassed by Groves on what remains his most crushing pro defeat
Groves, rarely one for mincing his words, had warned him before their clash that his lack of guidance would come back to haunt him.
‘He is that ignorant he thinks he can do it himself. “The cornermen give me water: I do the rest, I train myself, I know what I’m doing”.
‘It doesn’t work – the greatest fighters in the world have a great team or trainer around them just to nudge them in the right direction. The dad is supposed to be that, but it’s the blind leading the blind. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, especially the dad. He’s lost his grip on reality.
Though despite their war of words beforehand, Groves and Eubank are now on amicable terms, with the former taking great delight in one of his future victories…
The WBA super-middleweight champion had warned him not having a trainer would cost him
Win vs James DeGale
Eubank got back to winning ways after that crushing shortcoming against Groves by dispatching of JJ McDonagh in straightforward fashion seven months later.
Next came the most crucial outing of his career to date against DeGale, with both men facing early retirement if they failed to emerge victorious.
DeGale, the ex-IBF super-middleweight king who looked way past his best in a shock defeat and subsequent win over underdog Caleb Truax, even branded their bout ‘the retirement fight’.
Like Eubank, the crestfallen former champion can hold his own in verbal warfare, meaning their face-to-face meeting for ITV’s Gloves Are Off programme provided box-office entertainment alone.
Eubank then found himself in another bitter rivalry with ex-world champion James DeGale
DeGale called his younger foe a ‘deluded moron’ before what he branded ‘the retirement fight’
But Eubank finally gained bragging rights in a dominant win which remains his best
The highlights of that slanging match included an amused DeGale labelling Eubank a ‘deluded moron’ and the latter hitting back by pinpointing an alleged nightclub squabble with The Only Way Is Essex star James Argent as the moment he knew his arch-rival was a beaten man.
As it turned out, Eubank well and truly had DeGale’s number on an evening which remains his proudest inside the squared circle.
Albeit in an uninspiring encounter, the Hove-born fighter sent his more-experienced foe stumbling across the ring early on and even forced a count after whipping in a ferocious left hook.
He will be hoping for a similar triumph when he takes on Williams in Wales next weekend
DeGale, evidently past the peak of his powers, failed to get close to Eubank on the night and suffered a career-ending unanimous points humbling.
Groves, who detests former amateur rival DeGale more than his ex-opponent, even entered his dressing room to congratulate him afterwards.
When Eubank collides with Williams next Saturday, he will be hoping to make it 2-2 in battles with British enemies.