Can Chris Eubank Jnr. be ITV’s Pay-Per-View Gate Crasher?
Jnr. has almost airbrushed the 2014 defeat to bitter rival and now WBO Middleweight World Champion Billy Joe Saunders from his résumé...
In 1975 The Sex Pistols formed in London, emerging from the spikily burgeoning punk scene that was swallowing the Glam Rock movement of the early 70’s whole, before spitting out the bones.
At the same time, in Albuquerque, New Mexico on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, a bespectacled Bill Gates and a bearded Paul Allen were launching what would become the considerably less anarchic Microsoft Corporation.
And on the other side of the World, in the Philippine capital city of Manila, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier emerged on stage to play out a Thrilla that would combine athletics, human endurance, socio-cultural line drawing and the pioneering use of state-of-the-art technology.
On that staggering night out in the Philippine Islands, Home Box Office (HBO) became the first television network to continuously transmit signals via satellite in order to deliver a sporting and cultural viewing experience to homes across the World and proved the audience demand for it.
Since then, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and of course Floyd Mayweather, have authored a revenue generating PPV blueprint, blending the spirit of Barnum with the darker reaches of vaudeville, along with their unique skill sets, so that an Anthony Joshua can now entertain an Eric Molina and add six figures to his bank balance.
Back in the 1970’s and early 80’s, the ITV television network in the UK screened occasional boxing events from the US and later obtained the rights to show fights under the Frank Warren Sports Network banner along with cards promoted by Barry Hearn and Don King.
The popularity of these free-to-air events saw ITV’s boxing output from the early 1990’s re-packaged as the industrial, yellow and black branded The Big Fight with its unforgettably dramatic theme tune and even more unforgettable action, featuring fighters including Nigel Benn, Naseem Hamed and Mike Tyson.
Ironically, the end of The Big Fight years and boxing on ITV per se came when Barry Hearn took his Matchroom stable of fighters across to the burgeoning, Premier League-driven SKY television, ironic because that stable was led by Chris Eubank.
On Saturday 21st January 2017, the Big Fight Live returns as a two tier event which offers the free-to-air broadcast of fights including Robbie Davies vs. Willie Limond and Jack Arnfield vs. Mick Hall on ITV4.
This is followed by ITV’s first foray into Pay-Per-View boxing, headlined by Chris Eubank Jnr. contesting the vacant IBO World Super Middleweight title against Australia’s Renold Quinlan, which will be broadcast via ITV Box Office and online.
“I feel blessed to have this opportunity to work with ITV after they first showcased my father 26 years ago,” said Eubank Jr. “And I intend to deliver more of what my father did. Speed, power, accuracy, showmanship and the will to fight and beat the best of the best. Maybe even with a little bit more swagger!”
Jnr. has almost airbrushed the 2014 defeat to bitter rival and now WBO Middleweight World Champion Billy Joe Saunders from his résumé, going on to win five straight in increasingly impressive fashion. A run which included the capture of the British Middleweight Title in a savagely and tragically one-sided encounter against Nick Blackwell.
Team Eubank has also largely convinced itself that they remain unbeaten, with Jnr. telling SKY Sports in mid 2016, “He knows last time was a fluke of luck. Saunders didn’t beat me. I wasn’t battered or shown-up. I made the mistake of not pressing him early, pacing myself too much because it was my first 12-round fight. Once I was out of that mode it was no competition and it’s not happened since then.”
It was no fluke of luck. Saunders took the first half of the fight with quality technical work before Eubank Jnr. found a foothold with some calculated aggression in the second half.
Scores of 115-114 and 115-113 for Saunders and 116-113 for Eubank Jnr. were hard to argue with and depended very much on what angle you watched from and how you prefer your boxing to be served.
This was a split decision outcome that personified split decisions.
The rematch would have launched ITV’s Pay-Per-View boxing platform with some fanfare and excitement, instead Eubank Jnr. will be facing the aforementioned Renold Quinlan to contest the vacant IBO World Super Middleweight Title.
Renold Quinlan, brings a professional record of 11 victories in 12, built on the foundations of a similarly brief amateur tally of 12 wins in 15.
“I’m not scared of anyone, I’ll take on the best when ever and where ever. I don’t want to just be Australia’s greatest boxer; I want to be the world’s best. I’ll travel across the world to fight anyone who puts their hand up to fight me. I’ve been waiting my whole life to prove I’ve got what it takes, this is my time and Eubank Jnr. is going to know this.” Said Quinlan.
The coming fight with Eubank Jnr. will be Quinlan’s first fistic foray outside of his native Australia coming on the back of his golden ticket 2nd round knockout of former unified Middleweight World Champion, Daniel Geale in October of 2016.
Geale is a decent name to have on your resume and for Quinlan offers an otherwise difficult point of reference. But fast approaching 35 years of age after a 12-year pro career that has included tough losses to Miguel Cotto, Gennady Golovkin, Darren Barker and Anthony Mundine, Geale is clearly now a gatekeeper if he chooses to continue.
Chris Eubank Jnr. on the other hand is about to become the gate opener for ITV Box Office – whether the gate stays open afterwards is another matter.