It’s in the Blood….Or is it?


Can Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr live up to the talents of their fathers?

Can The Son Outshine The Father?

That old chestnut, the fighting DNA. If you happen to have a father or uncle who was a fighter, then well congratulations! You’ve got that fighting DNA….or do you?
When it comes to boxing, there are countless success stories of related boxers, we don’t have to look back very long to know that the Klitschko brothers absolutely dominated the heavyweight division for plenty of years, they are probably the most well known and successful pair of brothers in boxing and currently we’ve got the talented Charlo brothers in the States. If we look at here in the UK then the heavyweight scene has a couple of cousins who aren’t too shabby either, Tyson Fury the former world heavyweight champion and his cousin Hughie Fury, don’t be surprised if in future Hughie Fury becomes a world champion too. Not far from where the Fury clan grew up we have the Smith brothers, all of them are capable boxers with the youngest Callum Smith, already the best of the bunch. Of course there is also the McDonnell brothers.

But what about when it comes to father/son combinations? How many world champions or legends of the game have had sons who went on to become better or even equal to their fathers talents inside the ring? No one really comes to mind…we’ve got Floyd Mayweather Jnr who was better than his father and uncles but his father wasn’t a world champion, his uncle Roger was though. Julio Cesar Chavez Snr was a great boxer from Mexico, and although his son Chavez Jnr did win a world title and holds a more than respectable 50-3 record, his career has gone off the rails as of late culminating in a very poor performance against his fellow countryman and new star of Mexico, Canelo Alvarez. Cory Spinks was a two weight world champion and a better boxer than his father, but his father is still better known than him – for defeating Muhammad Ali.
The number of son’s who have failed to follow in the illustrious footsteps of their legendary boxing fathers are many, Marvis Frazier was no Joe Frazier, Ronald Hearns couldn’t compare to his father the Hitman Hearns either.
So what happened to this fighting DNA? Perhaps when the father becomes a great boxer with the riches that follow, the children have no need to slog it out in the gym and invest hours upon hours and year after year on their craft, why get punched in the face for a living when you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth thanks to the hard work of your father?

As someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s I was treated to some excellent boxing match ups and some spectacular rivalries here in the UK. The most well known of these were in the middleweight and super middleweight division where Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Snr were drawing in the viewers and providing some classic battles for the ages with their highly publicised dislike for eachother. Both are legends in the UK and I’m sure across the world are respected for their boxing ability. The multi weight world champions were tough, hit hard and never gave up, they were real warriors, real fighters and took part in some of the best fights of their times. Like Ali and Frazier, the careers of Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Snr would be forever intertwined.
So when their son’s decided to follow the path laid down by their fathers, the whole country stood up and took notice, after all the entertainment the seniors had given the country and the boxing world, wouldn’t it be great if their children could now give us even more? We all secretly wanted their children to be a chip off the old block….

Enter Chris Eubank Jnr. When I first saw Jnr fight, I have to admit I wasn’t very impressed, he seemed to lack any true punching power. Not that power is a barometer for success, but when you are starting out and essentially being fed journeymen to build your hype, you expect some fireworks and big knockouts in the early rounds to wet your appetite. However, he did take care of business and beat everyone put in front of him but something was missing when you saw him fight, he looked good but looked more show than substance. Fast forward to 2018 with a professional career now almost 7yrs old, it is safe to say that at almost 29yrs old we have seen pretty much everything Jnr is capable of.
What is he capable of? Well capable seems a good way to describe him, he is capable, his assets are his excellent fitness levels and the ability to fight at a high work rate, throwing punches in bunches, he also has a lovely uppercut but unfortunately each time Jnr has faced a world class opponent, he has come out on the losing side. First to Billy Joe Saunders and then earlier this year to George Groves. With his loss against Saunders you could just brush it off as a learning experience for a young fighter still early into his career, his loss against Groves though, exposed Eubank Jnr and his level of boxing skill and acumen. Jnr was unable to work out or adjust to his opponent and displayed a lack of boxing fundamentals, namely abandoning the jab, leading with the hook and not moving his feet. This allowed Groves to coast and never really move out of his comfort zone, until perhaps the final round when it was already too late and Groves was fighting hurt.

What now for Eubank Jnr? For all his bravado – it didn’t help his father stroked his ego before he had really proved himself on the world level, can Eubank who turns 29 next month, correct many of the basic mistakes he made or is his style set in stone? Will he listen to a coach and remodel his style to make the next leap in levels he needs to undertake or will his ego fail to allow him to listen to the advice and go about doing what needs to be done, which is going to be many many hours of relearning basic skills he was lacking. Can he fight to a plan if his plan A fails and can he make adjustments during a fight? The good news is he does have his fathers experience and smarts with him but if hasn’t taken heed of that now, will he ever? If he continues the way he is going, Eubank Jnr will never be world class but will do well enough on the domestic and European level(let’s ignore the IBO belt, for the time being that is really just a Mickey Mouse belt), that however would fall well short of expectations and far far away from both his fathers stature and his fathers prediction that his son would be the next Floyd Mayweather Jnr….Jnr was raised for success, from being sent to the USA as a child to enhance his sporting prospects and training with the Mayweathers, the problem is though, that despite being the athlete – he could probably do well in a number of sports, as good as the physical side of Eubank Jnr is, the mental side or ring IQ seems to be lacking for someone who wants to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

Conor Benn joined the pro ranks almost 5yrs after Eubank Jnr and is the son of fan favourite Nigel Benn. Who doesn’t like Nigel Benn? The Dark Destroyer was just someone we could all relate to, he was always himself, spoke in slang and came to do business, his ferocious style was fan friendly and his attitude inside and outside the ring was honest yet brutal. He was a brawler and a puncher, with the heart of a lion. The younger Benn impressed me when he started out, with every fight he looked to be getting better and better. His first fight ended with a round one TKO and with each passing fight, he was looking more and more like the fighting style of his father. After a layoff Benn returned and looked excellent in victory over Mike Cole, his next three fights he closed the door early and got them out of there in either one or two rounds, he was looking good…
Then came the small matter of Cedric Peynaud in December of 2017. Peynaud came into the fight with 5 wins against 4 losses and was not expected to cause Benn any trouble but upset the apple cart as early as the first round when he knocked Benn down twice. Benn came back to drop the Frenchman in rounds 5 and 6 and won a controversial points win, when the referee somehow scored the fight 57-54 in Benns favour. Benn looked poor in this fight, but it could be argued the young fighter was jaded from fighting in each of the past four months and 5 of the last 6 – a rest was due.
Normal service was resumed for Benn in April of 2018 when he won comfortably in round 4 before yet again he was faced with Peynaud, determined to right the wrongs of their first fight Benn wanted to show he was much better than that night in December where many viewers believed at the very least, the fight was a draw. What happened though, didn’t inspire confidence in his fans…the scorecards showed it was an easy win for Benn but the truth of the matter was anything but.
Benn was caught early, hard and often and his defence left a lot to be desired. He did well to adapt to Peynauds southpaw style but had Peynaud carried a heavier hand, it could have been curtains for Benn at various points in the early going.

What Benn did show was an ability to adapt and he gained composure of himself during the fight as well keeping his fitness better than his opponent, Benn took over the in later rounds and really stamped his authority on the night with some late knockdowns behind getting his jab going again.
The plus side is that Benn is still only 21yrs old. He is using these early fights as a pro to gain experience and sharpen his craft, he has a good team behind him and should continue to get better, if managed carefully he has the potential to go far but he still needs another 2-3yrs of ring experience before he is anywhere near world level. The welterweight division is probably the best in the world, if you are getting tagged repeatedly by Cedric Peynaud then you have no chance of handling the punch power of welterweights such as Errol Spence Jnr, Danny Garcia or Keith Thurman. If you’re struggling against southpaws or switch hitters then good luck competing against arguably the best pound for pound fighter on the planet, Terence Crawford, who can fight in both stances.
Benn will have to be something special to make a name for himself in a division crowded as the welterweight division but with age on his side and a strong team surrounding him, he has all the support and tools needed to help him get there.

About the author 


Boxing Coach
Strength and Conditioning Coach
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The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival

Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit!

Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle

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