Tense Eubank Jr. vs. Yildirim conflict will be settled Saturday in WBSS quarterfinal


Chris Eubank Sr., who won world titles at middleweight and super middleweight, was one of Great Britain’s biggest boxing stars of the 1990s. Besides his superb boxing ability, he could talk and talk and talk.

He was as brash as they come, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His son, super middleweight contender Chris Eubank Jr., has nowhere near the list of accomplishments of his father — at least not yet — but he can certainly drop a solid quote, and he’s brash just like his old man.

Eubank Jr. is set to fight Avni Yildirim in a scheduled 12-round bout on Saturday (DirecTV’s Audience Network, 7 p.m. ET, same-day tape) in the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series single-elimination tournament, at Hanns-Martin-Schleyer Halle in Stuttgart, Germany — and he has a knockout on his mind.

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“Yildirim’s chin has not been tested,” Eubank said. “I will test it to the absolute limit and if it has even the slightest bit of weakness he will not last six rounds.

“This is the first fight for me in this tournament and I am here to make a statement. I am the man; I’m the man to beat. There will be no mercy for Yildirim. I am here to win. I am not here to make friends. I am not here to look pretty and be a celebrity. I am here in this tournament to become the champion.”

This week, Eubank Jr. paid tribute to his father, who is his manager.

“My father was one of the most dazzling figures in boxing in his era and one of the most successful,” he said. “He electrified the audience and made his opponents feel insecure. Boxing is not only a sport, but also a show, and I will try to be as good as my father in both matters.”

One of the most memorable moments of the elder Eubank’s career was in March 1995, when he entered the arena before his first fight against Steve Collins on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Eubank Sr. suffered his first defeat to Collins that night, dropping a split decision that cost him super middleweight world title, but the entrance was so memorable.

During a photo shoot this week for Saturday’s fight, Eubank Jr. used a Harley-Davidson as a prop in honor of his father’s audacious move all those years ago.

“It was the first defeat of my father. That’s why I chose another [model of] Harley-Davidson for the photo shoot,” Eubank Jr. said. “I am the next generation, the future of boxing. On Saturday, I will terminate Yildirim, the so-called ‘Turkish Rambo.’ Before I win the Muhammad Ali Trophy (that will go to the tournament winner) in May next year, I’ll enter an arena on a Harley just like my father.”

But before that’s a possibility, Eubank (25-1, 19 KOs), 28, of England, the No. 3 seed in the eight-man field, must take care of business against the unseeded Yildirim (16-0, 10 KOs), 26, of Turkey. It’s a fight for which emotions boiled over at the final pre-fight news conference, as the fighters and their teams really got into it verbally before Ahmet Öner, Yildirim’s manager, nearly got into a fight with a member of Eubank’s entourage.

“I am looking forward to fighting in Germany,” said Eubank Jr., who earned his spot in the tournament with a one-sided decision victory over former super middleweight and middleweight world titleholder Arthur Abraham on July 15. “It really doesn’t matter to me where I fight as long as I get the win that is all I care about. I have been training at Floyd Mayweather’s camp in the U.S. the last (several) weeks, and I could not have asked for better preparations before entering the World Boxing Super Series.”

Yildirim may not be a showman like Eubank, but that does not mean he can’t fight or that he lacks confidence.

“This tournament is a chance for me to fight the best in the world. It is an honor for me to compete against these guys, all giants in the super middleweight division,” Yildirim said. “I respect Chris Eubank Jr., but I will tell him one thing: I am going to make my country proud.

“I am here to make a dream come true, and I do not see anyone taking that dream away from me. I am here to destroy everyone in this tournament. I am not an Instagram or Facebook fighter like Eubank Jr. I am Avni Yildirim, and I am here to destroy. I will do anything to win this fight and win this tournament. I feel good, I am very prepared. Let’s fight!”

Said Öner: “I do not fear Eubank Jr. He has nothing to stop Avni. Eubank is a kid, a spoiled kid who thinks he is a brave tough guy. He is not. Eubank Jr. has good movement, but he has no power. Eubank Jr. is a cheap version of Floyd Mayweather. He thinks he is Mayweather, but he is not.”

In the scheduled 10-round co-feature, Germany’s Stefan Haertel (14-0, 1 KOs) takes on Viktor Polyakov (13-1-1, 6 KOs), of Ukraine, in a super middleweight bout between tournament alternates.

The Eubank-Yildirim winner will move on to the semifinals, which will take place in early 2018, to face the winner of the quarterfinal bout between world titleholder and No. 1 seed George Groves (26-3, 19 KOs), and British countryman Jamie Cox (23-0, 13 KOs). They are scheduled to fight on Oct. 14 at the SSE Arena Wembley in London.

No. 2 seed Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs), of England, already advanced to the semifinals by outpointing Sweden’s Erik Skoglund on Sept. 16 in Smith’s hometown of Liverpool, England. Smith will face the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 4 seed Juergen Braehmer (48-3, 35 KOs), a former light heavyweight world titleholder from Germany who is moving down in weight, and unseeded Rob Brant (22-0, 15 KOs), of St. Paul, Minnesota. They meet on Oct. 27 at Kongresshalle in Schwerin, Germany.


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