Chris Eubank FIGHT WORN trunks from his 1st fight against Michael Watson for the WBO middleweight title, 22nd June 1991, Earls Court Exhibition Hall, Kensington, London.
Eubank won by a majority decision with scores of 116-113, 115-113 and 114-114, close enough to support dissension by commentators and supporters which resulted in the tragic rematch.
Condition worn (some soiling on left leg and fraying on waist drawstrings)
Chris Eubank vs Michael Watson I (see Eubank wearing trunks)
Christopher Livingstone Eubanks (later opting to delete the 's' from his surname) was born on 8th August, 1966, in Dulwich, London and spent nearly two years in Jamaica (from two months old to two years old). On his return, he lived in Stoke Newington, Dalston, Hackney and then Peckham. He grew up in poverty.
Chris attended Bellingden Junior School, and then Thomas Carlton Secondary School from where he was suspended eighteen times in one year and then expelled. He then attended Peckham Manor School, from where he was suspended five times in four weeks and then also expelled. Chris was then put into care.
He was then placed in various institutions by the Social Services: The Hollies in Sidcup, Kent, for one month; Yastrid Hall in North Wales for one and a half years; Stanford House in Shepherds Bush for seven weeks for assessment; St. Vincent's in Dartford, Kent, for one month; Orchard Lodge, Crystal Palace, for seven weeks for assessment; Karib in Peckham, London, for one month; and then, finally, Davy's Street School (care facility) in Peckham for one month.
His mother had left for New York when he was eight years old. At the age of 16, his father sent him to New York to live with his mother in the South Bronx.
Eubank made a fresh start in the South Bronx, quitting alcohol and marijuana, attending church and studying at Morris High School (he graduated in the summer of 1986). In his spare time he trained at the Jerome Boxing Club on Westchester Avenue (his older brothers, Peter and Simon, who were twins, were both boxers back in Peckham).
Eubank became obsessed with trying to improve his skills at the boxing gym and trained seven days a week, becoming an amateur boxer and winning the 1984 New York Spanish Golden Gloves. He then reached the semi-finals of the 1985 New York Daily News Golden Gloves at Madison Square Garden, which is where his reputation for controversy began as he hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after biting his opponent's shoulder. His drive to succeed in boxing came through his drive to become an accepted individual.
He made his debut at the Atlantis Hotel against Timmy Brown, shortly after his 19th birthday. It was an eye-catching display, the young man vaulting the top rope and showing agility, skill and power. He won over four rounds on points, and four more four-rounders followed (all in Atlantic City) with four more points wins. He finally returned to the UK in January 1988, making Brighton (where his brothers Peter and Simon had settled) his adopted home.
He became obsessed with becoming a World champion. In October 1988, when he was 10 and 0 as a professional boxer, Eubank first started calling out Nigel Benn, and they would become arch-rivals.
In 1990 he beat highly rated Brazilian Reginaldo Dos Santos in 20 seconds to win an inter-continental title and a World title shot, then won the WBO World middleweight title against Nigel Benn in a classic encounter that was later released on DVD. Eubank would defend the title successfully against Dan Sherry, Gary Stretch and finally in an excellent match with Michael Watson. This concluded Eubank's career as a middleweight, with a 28-0 record.
In 1991 he was involved in what experts regard as the greatest fight in a British ring where he sent the ill-fated Michael Watson into a coma. Eubank was behind on all scorecards when he rose from the canvas at the end of the 11th round to unleash a devastating uppercut to Watsons jaw. The blow was exacerbated when a left hook quickened the stunned Watsons' fall into the ropes. The bout was somehow allowed to continue briefly into the 12th, but Watson collapsed afterwards and almost died. Eubank contemplated quitting the sport.
The Eubank v Watson rematch is considered one of the greatest of all time, and commentator Reg Guttteridge claimed he had; "never seen a more dramatic end to a World title fight".
The Watson rematch won Eubank a second title, the WBO World super-middleweight championship. His middleweight title relinquished, Eubank began defending his new crown at the higher weight of 12st to which he was more suited.
After injuring Watson permanently, Eubank never again showed his desire to win by knockout, and became an 'out-fighter', winning many fights on points and retaining his WBO World super-middleweight title.
Nigel Benn moved up to super middleweight and became WBC champion. The pair agreed to meet in a WBC/WBO unification rematch. In 1993 the rivals would engage in another contest named 'Judgement Day', and watched by millions, fought thrillingly to a draw.
Don King negotiated the contracts so that he would own both the winner and the loser of Eubank v Benn 2. Barry Hearn claimed that as a draw was not written into the contract, Eubank was free to sign a new deal with him. He did.
Eubank, despite losing his killer instinct after the Watson tragedy, still continued to box and claim scalps. He beat former IBF World super-middle and future WBC World light-heavyweight champion Graciano Rocchigiani, in an infamous bout staged in Berlin. Eubank memorably infuriated the partisan crowd by strutting and posing between rounds.
Former IBF World super-middleweight king Lindell Holmes was easily beaten, as was two-time WBC World super-middleweight champion 'Sugar Boy' Malinga, European champion Ray Close and American champion Ron Esset.
After the Benn rematch and the Rocchigiani victory, Eubank signed an eight fight £10million deal with Sky Sports, and fought in Ireland, South Africa, Manchester, London and Millstreet. Fights in Paris, Rome and the Middle East to conclude the program were scuppered when Eubank lost his title via a split decision in March 1995. In his 44th fight, having accepted at short notice to fight Steve Collins, his unbeaten record and title were lost. Collins was a stand-in for Ray Close, who had failed an MRI scan. Eubank had Collins reeling but seemmed bereft of his old killer instinct.
In the rematch, Eubank had Collins bleeding and disorientated but would not 'bludgeon' his opponent to a knockout, after the Watson tragedy. Chris, with not a mark on his face, lost on points. He retired at 45-2.
Chris Eubank returned to boxing a year later, organising a two fight program to box where he would have defended his title in the sky deal, beating Luis Barrera in Cairo, Egypt, and Camilo Alarcon in Dubai. He then signed a deal with Frank Warren to fight again on Sky. Eubank again accepted a title fight at short notice again when Collins retired before facing Joe Calzaghe. Chris had returned to training for a challenge for the WBC intercontinental light-heavyweight title, with a view to a World title shot at that weight. Yet with his old title vacated, he accepted the offer to try to regain his old title, facing a young and fit Joe Calzaghe.
After an exhausting two week weight draining regimen Eubank fought bravely in losing a 12 round decision.
Calzaghe, who has held the WBO title for ten years since that fight, claims Eubank gave him the hardest fight of his career. This proved to be the last fight of his super-middleweight career, with his record standing at 45 wins and 3 losses.
His two 1998 comeback fights against Carl Thompson at cruiserweight saw the once retired Eubank bravely lose to a older but fresher champion of a much heavier weight than Eubank had fought at for a decade. Eubank lost narrowly on points in the first fight despite flooring Thompson in the fourth round, and in the second was narrowly ahead on the scorecards when the fight was stopped by the ringside doctor at the end of the tenth, though Eubank protested bitterly.
The losses late in his career saw the British public respond warmly to him, as he proved his bravery which had not been tested since the wars with Benn and Watson. Eubank retired as a long unbeaten fighter, and two weight World champion for six years.
Michael Watson (born March 15, 1965). During his fighting days he had the reputation as the nice guy of British boxing, the people's choice who kept to himself (which contrasted sharply with the likes of Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank who both demanded the limelight). He did not fulfil his dream of becoming World champion as a result of his career being cut short and ending prematurely through tragedy, but many in England see him as a hero.
Watson took up boxing at the age of fourteen after being beaten up by the local bully, an issue that would be rectified later on in his career with a victory over Nigel Benn.
He started out at the Crown and Manor boxing club, where he proved to be a quick learner, winning the 1980 London Schools title in the under-71kg weight class.
Due to over-confidence in his abilities, especially his powerful right hand, he lost his first fight in the 1981 Junior ABA final against Garry Sanderson. He looked impressive during the 1980/81 national tournament, making smart movements and being smooth in the delivery of his punches. In the semi-finals he finally lost to former champion and southpaw Roy Carroll. Though he lost, he still had an impressive 20-2 record at the Crown and Manor Club and with this experience he moved to the Colvestone Boxing Club.
At the Colvestone Club, Michael trained and sparred for over a year with Kirkland Laing, Dennis Andries, and Darren Dyer, an English star known as "The Phantom". After this, he entered the 1983/84 Nationals at under-75kg and won the title. This led him to pursue his first senior championship the following year. On his 19th birthday, he fought John Beckles, the premier English boxer, during the 1984 London ABAs. The fight was highly anticipated due to both Beckles and Watson being national champions. This match was also seen as a huge rivalry since Beckles boxed for the Islington Boxing Club and Watson's hometown was Islington.
Watson entered as a big underdog but ended the fight in just over 30 seconds (Beckles went on to win medals at the European and World Championships over the next few years). Following this big win for Watson he was seen as Great Britain's best hope for a medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
Unfortunately, due to over-confidence again he suffered a huge setback in the 1984 British ABA semi-finals when he lost to Scotland's Russell Barker. Because of this loss, Watson's place on the Olympic team was taken by Liverpool's Brian Schumacher, who easily beat Barker in the final. This was also seen as disappointing since Watson had beaten Schumacher, the son of German parents, twice previously. Watson did end up travelling to Los Angeles with the Great Britain Olympic team as a reserve. Another huge match in Watson's career came two years after his poor showing in 1984. In his seventh professional fight, he took on reigning European amateur champion Carlton Warren. If Warren beat Watson he was promised a shot at Herol 'Bomber' Graham, the greatest post-war British boxer never to win a World title, as early as his fifth pro fight.
Warren and Watson went at it in Royal Albert Hall in London, both boxers fighting as if it were the end of the World, with Watson coming out on top in the end.
Surprisingly, coins were thrown into the ring after Watson's arm was raised. It was a token of appreciation for Watson's skills, and boxing history was made that night because it was the last time this occurrence came up (the term 'nobbins' referred to an old practice in boxing of throwing coins into the ring but this rarely ever happened).
His defeat at the hands of future European champion James Cook came shortly after his victory over Warren but came at a good time in Watson's career. The match was decided on points, so it showed that he was out-hussled and out-worked rather than out-boxed or out-classed. Soon after there was talk of fights with Dennis Andries or Tony Sibson because Watson was struggling to make the middleweight class weight limit and this was seen as taking away the delivery he used to have in his right hand. In the end he remained a middleweight and racked up seven wins between his loss to Cook and his first bout in 1988.
By the time 1988 came around, the smooth-boxing Watson was getting frustrated at Mickey Duff's inability to land him fights with ranked opposition. He got his wish when he stepped in as a late substitute to face top-rated Dangerous Don Lee, a switch-hitting American. Lee was the most feared and avoided middleweight of the early-to-mid 80's, but was not quite the same by the time he fought Watson. Lee was supposed to have been fighting Herol Graham in a WBA elimination fight, and nobody seemed to give Watson much chance because Lee was going to let out his frustrations at Graham pulling out late onto Watson.
A young Gerald McClellan, future World middleweight champion, was in London working as Lee's sparring partner. Watson stood with Lee for five rounds and came out on top. That victory set-up a 10-round IBF elimination fight with Michael Olajide at Caesar's Palace, as chief support for the Frank Tate-Michael Nunn fight. Michael Watson had arrived, or so he thought. Olajide pulled out of the fight at the last-minute, and Watson disappointingly had to settle for fighting late-replacement Israel Cole. That fight only lasted two rounds after an accidental headbutt by Watson led to Cole being cut and the match being called a draw. Three more wins for Watson set him up for his revenge against Nigel Benn in 1989.
On May 21, 1989, Nigel Benn, the power-puncher and former East End Army hero was 22-0 with 22 KO's and was guaranteed a multi-million dollar Las Vegas showdown with Michael Nunn if he knocked out Watson. It was thought that Nigel Benn would quickly take care of Watson, that 'The Dark Destroyer' was supposed to conquer the World. In Watson's first fight on terrestrial ITV (his fights had been shown on BBC on Saturday afternoons), and his first fight screened World-wide (including live across America on free TV), he put on a counter-punching clinic to shock the World with a classic 'rope-a-dope' in a tent at Finsbury Park. He surprised everyone with his peek-a-boo style, timing, and accuracy in seemingly exposing Benn as nothing more than a paper tiger. Watson was seen as old-fashioned and reserved when compared to Benn, who had a very flashy ring entrance, coming out to Conroy Smith's 'Dangerous'. Watson was able to show Nigel Benn who was the best by knocking him out with a jab in the sixth. Thus completing his revenge from his earlier days, he went on to fight six more times. He went 3-3 in those last six bouts.
The Benn victory, for the Commonwealth title, set-up a World title clash with Jamaican legend Mike 'The Body Snatcher' McCallum. However, the fight was postponed twice and when it did finally take place Watson had been out of the ring for almost an entire year and was going into the fight with a bout of the flu and a fractured nose. Also, Watson's team gave him late instructions to move forward a lot more than usual and throw a large quantity of punches at McCallum in a much different style than Watson had ever used before (to try to pressure the older pro McCallum as if they thought his legs may go in the later rounds). That had never been Watson's style; Watson's best attribute was counter-punching. Had he counter-punched McCallum instead of attack him, and had the fight not been postponed, Watson probably would have won.
But instead, McCallum used his head to pace himself and land more accurately to steal rounds, until Watson collapsed in as much exhaustion as pain in the eleventh round. "People ask me if I took Michael too lightly and I tell them they are mad. I knew how good he was and I knew just how good I would have to be to beat him", said McCallum, when reflecting on his career.
It is ironic that Nigel Benn won his World title shot in the very month that Watson lost his World title shot.
Watson fought Errol Christie (once the golden boy of British boxing) on the Benn-Eubank undercard and was disgusted when given just a measly £10,000 for his work, whereas Benn and Eubank picked up a combined £1million that night. Watson easily beat Errol Christie that night. Enter Chris Eubank, June 1991 at Earl's Court, another shot at the World Middleweight title. A crowd of over 12,000 packed the historic hall and witnessed a classic encounter.
The fight was close, but most ringside observers believed that Michael had done enough and the 14 million viewers watching it live on ITV were also convinced that Michael had won. In the days that followed, the nation's leading newspapers ran polls that asked their readers for their opinions on the decision. The verdict was unanimous: The People's Champion was declared the winner. The story of the fight dominated the back pages of the newspapers for days.
A few weeks after the controversial fight, September 21, 1991, a re-match was announced. In the ring that night at White Hart Lane the two boxers pushed themselves to their very limits. For one, it was nearly too far. The fight ended in round 12 when the referee, Roy Francis, put himself between Eubank's fists and Watson's head and stopped the World title fight. Next, chaos ensued as Watson suddenly collapsed inside the ring. In need of quick medical help, he faced some dire moments: there were neither ambulances nor paramedics at the event and as a result Watson had to endure 30 minutes without oxygen.
He was finally provided with an oxygen mask after an ambulance had been rushed from a nearby hospital. This extended time without oxygen proved vital in the outcome of Watson's future, and he spent 40 days in a coma after six brain operations to remove a blood clot. It is believed that the time Watson spent without oxygen is one of the longest anyone has ever survived.
Chris Eubank himself was profoundly affected by these events: he came very close to quitting boxing and in the remaining fights of his career he would often back off when he had an opponent hurt, and went through difficult emotional times, as many boxers do after the serious injury of an opponent.
Watson woke from his coma, but even then, his prognosis was not good. His neurosurgeon was afraid he would never speak or walk again. He spent many years in hospital, slowly recovering some of his movements, and regaining the ability to eat regular food, read, and write simple notes.
Even so, in 1999, his neurosurgeon wrote that Watson would never be able to walk again. Soon after, the doctor's prognosis began to change, as Watson started getting out of bed and beginning walking therapy. But his doctor was still guarded: he said that Watson would have a hard time walking half the length of a room. On April 19, 2003, Michael Watson made headlines and became an instant English national hero when he completed, after six days, the London Marathon. Finishing the race by his side were Chris Eubank and his neurosurgeon, who had become his personal friends.
On February 4, 2004, Watson was awarded the MBE by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. She told him that she had heard of his achievements. Watson was overjoyed and noted that this was his family's first actual visit to Buckingham Palace, although they had passed in front of the Palace many times before. Another of Nigel Benn's rivals, Gerald McClellan, went through a similar, life threatening situation, but McClellan's emergency, unlike Watson's, occurred after a fight with Benn himself. McClellan was also told he'd never be able to talk or walk again, but he has slowly been recovering both abilities too. The BBBC, Britain's governing boxing commission, was enraged that there were no paramedics at the site of the Eubank/Watson fight, stating that not only the boxers but also the larger public might be in danger if another medical emergency occurred during a boxing event in Britain. As a consequence of this, the regulatory body made it mandatory that boxing promoters have ambulances, doctors and paramedics on the site of any bout. Watson was awarded £1 million, most of it to cover for his medical expenses.