You sense there is a lot more at stake on Saturday night in Manchester than beating George Groves for Chris Eubank Jr.
This is a chance to get out of the shadow of his father, Groves probably represents the toughest challenge of his career so far, certainly his toughest foe since Billy Joe Saunders. A win over someone with the pedigree of Groves would establish Eubank Jr as an elite level fighter, something which he hasn’t yet proven.
The hype was there even before he turned professional based on reports from sparring sessions in the pro gyms, but as they say, sparring is sparring. There is a certain aura around Eubank Jr and he doesn’t lack for self-confidence that’s for sure.
But when Eubank Jr faced Saunders in 2014 he came up short and the flaws in his game were obvious, and he hasn’t really faced that sort of test since.
Eubank Jr dropped down to British level for a while, which I found surprising, a big step back. Eubank Jr I thought wasn’t progressing career-wise until he joined the IBO ranks and beat Renold Quinlan for the lightly regarded IBO super middleweight title. But from the type of opposition he’s faced since Saunders, it’s difficult to really know how much he has improved, Eubank Jr is still somewhat of an unknown, at least at elite world level.
Eubank Jr has been carefully matched since his only pro loss, but that stops Saturday night, Groves is the test for Eubank Jr we have all wanted to see.
There comes a time in a career when you have to justify the hype and show you are the real deal, that time is now.
The loss to Saunders can be written off as to soon, another loss to Groves this weekend will not be explained away quite so easily.