Billy Joe Saunders brings Chris Eubank Jr back to earth

By Ben DirsBBC Sport
Billy Joe Saunders fights Chris Eubank Junior
Billy Joe Saunders deserves credit for taking on a risky opponent in Chris Eubank Jr

Chris Eubank Jr is not Sugar Ray Leonard. He is just another talented boxer with a lot of learning to do.

With this now established as the absolute truth, perhaps Chris Eubank Sr might do his son a favour and calm down a little bit.

In narrowly outpointing Eubank Jr in London on Saturday, Billy Joe Saunders dealt a blow for old-fashioned seasoning against premature bluster.

Saunders, like Leonard, was an Olympian. But Saunders, like Leonard, knew that a stellar amateur record counted for little once the vest came off.

An unbeaten professional record built of journeymen is like a castle built of sand. A pro should spend his early years constructing high walls, ramparts and moats, so that he feels secure when a dangerous foe is at the drawbridge.

During the build-up to Saturday's contest, Eubank Sr raved about the tricks his son was performing in the gym. Super-middleweight world champion Carl Froch said Eubank Jr had acquitted himself well in sparring. But championship boxing and the gym are as different as The Open and the putting green.

Chris Eubank Jr sits in his corner, over seen by his father Chris Eubank
Chris Eubank Jr received advice from his father throughout Saturday's fight at the Excel

So it was no real surprise that Saunders prevailed. Before Saturday, his unbeaten record consisted of 20 fights and included five 12-rounders. Eubank Jr was unbeaten in 18 contests but had never been past eight rounds.

All this being said, Eubank Jr only just came up short. True, Saunders gave his less experienced rival a boxing lesson in the first half of the fight, making him look ungainly and amateurish. But Eubank Jr, like his old man used to do, came on like a train down the stretch.

Indeed, despite having his bombast pricked, Eubank Sr will have been mightily proud. The chip isn't the old block yet - but we shouldn't expect him to be.

Eubank's impromptu recital of 'If'

At 25, Eubank Jr has the prime raw ingredients and the time to blend them into something potent. But he will learn far more from tough domestic opponents - the likes of Yorkshire's Nick Blackwell and London's John Ryder - than he will from any number of obscure eastern Europeans boasting spurious CVs.

And while Eubank Sr is right to dream, he is probably better off keeping those dreams to himself. The problem with telling your kid that he's as talented as Sugar Ray Leonard - one of the all-time greats - is that he might believe you. And it must be confusing when he finds out that the truth is somewhat different.

If he learns some humility, admits his limitations and is prepared to go back to the drawing board and build those high walls, ramparts and moats, Eubank Jr could become a world champion yet. And that's not a bad ambition.

As for Saunders, he should be applauded for taking a fight he didn't have to take. With a world title challenge on the horizon (he will fight the winner of Ireland's Andy Lee and Russia's Matt Korobov, who contest the vacant WBO middleweight title on 13 December) he could have taken a less risky option.

Instead, he gave the public what they crave - and what in previous eras would have been quite normal. Namely, an entertaining boxing match between two domestic rivals. One man won, one man lost; no dramas, everyone just carry on. Do it all again a couple of years later in a bigger venue, everyone's a winner.

Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora
Fury dominated the heavyweight title eliminator against Chisora, ending the contest after 10 rounds

There is not much to say about the headline fight between Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora, except that the latter gave it his all, the former jabbed his head off and Fury should fight Wladimir Klitschko for the world heavyweight title next autumn. Yep, boxing can be this simple.

Had the fight started when it was supposed to, I suspect there would have been far less booing. But when the main event is delayed by well over an hour, you've paid £100 for a ticket and you've missed your last train home, the only thing that is going to placate you is if you're served up the Thrilla in Manila.

As it was, when Chisora called it quits after 10 one-sided rounds it was past 1am and half the crowd had left. What other sport, or indeed branch of entertainment, would spend months promoting a show only for it to overrun so drastically that punters miss the headline act?

The mind drifts to Woodstock in 1969. But Woodstock was free. And those that hung around long enough got to hear Jimi Hendrix.

It is all very well boasting of having a 'stacked' card but unless it runs on time it causes problems for everyone. Not only were journalists unable to get the Fury-Chisora result in the Sunday newspapers, in some cases they couldn't even update their online editions because office sub-editors had also gone home.

Given Eddie Hearn's dreary pay-per-view fight between Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly last weekend, Saturday was a chance for Frank Warren to land a telling shot on his young promotional rival. Despite the best efforts of Eubank Jr and Saunders, Warren missed - and boxing fans took the hit instead.