NO SOONER had Chris Eubank Jnr discovered a trainer capable of getting the best out of him, the same trainer was then arrested for attempting to take a handgun and ammunition on a plane. Brian ‘BoMac’ McIntyre, also trainer of Terence Crawford, is now in custody ahead of a date at Manchester Crown Court on October 9. Worst case scenario for McIntyre is a 10-year stretch.
Eubank Jnr’s career has been engrossing from the start, it’s been unpredictable and exciting, yet this is a twist of insane proportions. Goodness knows what McIntyre was thinking, or how he got the gun here in the first place, presuming of course he didn’t pick up the weapon while in the UK. It’s unlikely, however, that any further details will be made public until after his case is heard.
For now, it’s merely a burgeoning subplot that wouldn’t look out of place in a Netflix series and surely a mistake that will be long regretted. What we do know is that Eubank Jnr is back and looking better than he’s looked before. How much of that was down to McIntyre, himself, or Smith being a shadow of the fighter who knocked out Eubank in January is unknown; certainly, Eubank grew increasingly spiteful with each passing round in which it became clear Smith was struggling to do anything but survive. The Scouser – hoping to land one blow to turn things around – was as plucky as he was flawed, however.
Smith has been criticised for his post-fight admission that he had to lose 42lbs just to make weight. That criticism seems harsh. He did what he had to do to make the fight and earn his wages. He’d already pulled out twice with injuries and a third withdrawal would likely have seen him lose the chance to earn significantly after a long career. Yes, it’s far from ideal that, consequently, one-half of a pay-per-view attraction was below par but Smith, now 35 years old, is not the first fighter to endure a gruelling weight cut.
Regardless, Eubank was close to revelatory. Though any talk of him at last winning world titles is premature – and let’s face it, he’s been chasing big paydays over accolades for some time now – what we saw was a performance few thought he had in him. In many ways, as he exhibited care and smart approach play in the opening rounds before turning things up several notches when Smith was in trouble, he looked like the fighter he’s always wanted to be.
Suddenly, everyone is invested in the Eubank journey again. Not least Eddie Hearn, who within minutes of Eubank’s victory posted on Twitter, “Eubank v Benn… absolutely massive.” The same Hearn who is eager to implement an effective drug-testing policy for Matchroom fighters is also banging the drum for a fight involving a middleweight contender and an inactive welterweight who is yet to explain why he failed two tests last year. As we all know, Benn is awaiting the outcome of UKAD’s appeal against the National Anti-Doping Panel’s ruling to lift his suspension. In the meantime, Hearn is hoping to take Benn to America and showcase him there.
Some may say we’re being too harsh on the promoter. That, as a promoter who is promoting one of his fighters, he’s merely doing his job. But the messaging here is at best mixed and underlines why the sport’s authorities too often appear incapable of dealing with those who have failed tests. The proposed Eubank v Benn bout’s tagline, Unfinished Business, says it all.
The World Boxing Association, meanwhile, continue to outdo anyone else in boxing – even BoMac and his gun – for causing complete and utter chaos. Less than a week after Oleksandr Usyk had defeated Daniel Dubois, and thus rendering the latter’s WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight championship obsolete, the much-maligned rankings body installed former regular belt-holder, Mahmoud Charr, as their new regular heavyweight titlist. Don’t worry, though, he won’t get the prize without a fight. No, he must beat number five ranked Jarrell Miller, the same ‘Big Baby’ who was caught with numerous illegal substances in his system in 2019 and 2020. Charr hasn’t won a noteworthy fight since 2017. And if you believe that Miller’s 2022 win over the ancient Lucas Browne qualifies him for a title shot, well, grab your pistol and make your way to the airport.
Let’s end on a positive note, and a far worthier title than that wretched regular belt. It was warming to see the joy on Jack Cullen’s face after he knocked out Mark Heffron to win the British super-middleweight title. That the contest was so low down the Manchester bill was disappointing because it’s a championship loaded with history and often produces quality matchups. Cullen deserves a higher billing for his first defence.