Chris Eubank Sr likens son to Sugar Ray Leonard

By Ben DirsBBC Sport
Chris Eubank Sr and his son Chris Jr
Eubank Jr (left) is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father

Chris Eubank Sr has claimed his son is the most talented boxer since Sugar Ray Leonard.

Brighton's Eubank Jr, 25, challenges for Billy Joe Saunders' British, European and Commonwealth middleweight titles at London's Excel arena on Saturday.

Hatfield's Saunders, a former Olympian, is the favourite for the fight, which has had an ill-tempered build-up.

"The last person who had this ability was Sugar Ray Leonard," said Eubank Sr.

Eubank's impromptu recital of 'If'

"My son is the most dangerous young man I've ever come across in boxing, the most dangerous fighter on the planet.

"I was the benchmark, I was the beacon, I was the one everyone was measured against. And I can't even measure him against me.

"I have never seen anything like him. The great British public has a great journey in front of them over the next 10 years."

American Leonard, regarded by many as the greatest of the modern era, landed Olympic gold in 1976 before winning world titles in five weight divisions as a professional.

Blessed with dazzling skills, knockout punching power, a granite chin and enormous courage, not to mention good looks and charisma, Leonard fought and beat fellow greats Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler in a career spanning 20 years.

But Eubank Sr has no qualms about comparing his son, undefeated in 18 contests since turning pro in 2011, to Leonard.

Tale of the tape
Billy Joe SaundersChris Eubank Jr
Born30 August 1989 in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire18 September 1989 in Hove, Sussex
Turned proDecember 2008June 2011
Record20 fights, 20 wins (11 KOs)18 fights, 18 wins (12 KOs)
TitlesEuropean, British and Commonwealth middleweight championNone

"Am I putting too much pressure on him by saying he's as talented as Sugar Ray Leonard?" Eubank Sr told BBC Sport.

"If I don't say it to him, he'll never see it. I have to make him aware that this is what I see. Can he do what I see? I am absolutely certain of that. It's ridiculous the things he can do."

Eubank Sr won world titles in two weight divisions in the 1990s and is remembered as one of the most courageous boxers of all time.

But Eubank Jr says he is relaxed about comparisons with his father, who engaged in some of the most brutal contests in British boxing history, including his victory over Michael Watson in 1991, which left Watson fighting for his life.

"I have the same resolve as my father," said Eubank Jr. "I'm willing to lay down my life to defend my undefeated record.

"I know that I have something inside of me that many of the fighters of my generation don't. I'm made of pure British steel.

"I'm looking forward to the night when someone gives me the pleasure of providing me with a war, so I can show the public exactly what I'm made of.

"This is why I'm going to pull off a great performance on 29 November, in front of 20,000 people, with three belts on the line. It's going to be cool, calm, calculated mayhem."

Billy Joe Saunders
Saunders has won all 20 of his fights since turning pro

Saunders, also 25, represented Great Britain at Beijing 2008 and has won all 20 of his fights since turning professional the following year. He believes he is in top form going into the bout.

"I'm feeling great, the best I've ever been in my career," he said. "My weight is perfect. I'm just where I want to be.

"Everything has been done in training camp and I've left no stone unturned. I couldn't have done any more and now it's all on the line on Saturday night - there's going to be fireworks.

"The boxing world seems to be split down the middle deciding who is going to win between us. I can't see why because for me it's a clear cut victory for me - but everyone will see the reason why this Saturday."