Chris Eubank Jr has claimed the WBA interim middleweight title after beating Matt Korobov
in under four minutes in New York on Saturday night. However, the win didn’t come as
either Eubank or the Barclays Center crowd wanted, with Eubank Jr winning his first fight on
American soil courtesy of a shoulder injury to his opponent.
As many had expected, Korobov caused plenty of problems for his more highly fancied
opponent in the first round, with the 36-year-old Russian landing a couple of solid blows
early on in the bout. Just seconds into the second round though, after an innocuous punch
near the centre of the ring, Korobov grabbed his shoulder and retreated to the corner of the ring.
The referee called a stop to the fight and that was all she wrote.
Though there were numerous people backing Korobov to win the fight, the result was
ultimately what most people, as well as the sporting index boxing odds, had expected heading
in. While the two boast very similar career records, at 36 years of age Korobov is past his
prime and has had a difficult run in recent months, while Eubank Jr had dropped down to
middleweight, where he believes he is best suited and had a size, reach, and probably fitness
advantage over his older opponent.
Of course, no one could have predicted the manner in which Eubank Jr would get the victory,
and even the man himself said after the fight that it was difficult to glean much from what
was a severely shortened bout. Never one to mince his words, the 30-year-old from East
Sussex claimed there was ‘nothing to take from the fight’. And while he’s right to an extent,
there will be many critics who will be quick to point out the trouble Korobov gave him in the
first round as indicative of the technical flaws which exist in his fighting.
While he has had a successful professional career, Eubank Jr has often been criticized for his
style of fighting, and many believe Korobov to be the superior technician. Where Eubank Jr
had the advantage was in his physical conditioning, and his renowned work habits were
believed likely to hold him in good stead in the later rounds against an older opponent who
has in the past demonstrated a tendency to fade later in fights. While we will never know if
that would indeed have eventuated, the first round certainly did little to quash the concerns
surrounding the flaws in Eubank Jr’s boxing ability.
From the perspective of Korobov, this loss continues what has been a difficult streak for him
as his career heads into its twilight period. In his most recent bout prior to this match-up, he
was declared the winner against Immanuwel Aleem only to see the result changed to a draw
as a result of a mathematical mistake from a judge, while prior to that he gave Charlo one of
the toughest fights of his career but still lost in a 12-round unanimous decision.
The Russian Southpaw has always been regarded as a tough and honest opponent, and his
superior technical ability meant he was always capable of causing plenty of trouble for
Eubank Jr over the early rounds. That appeared likely to come to fruition following an
impressive first round and the ensuing injury is indicative of the bad luck which has
followed him in his recent bouts.
Plenty of speculation regarding where the fight was headed will no doubt follow its early
finish, and those on the side of Korobov will point to the early ascendency he had claimed as
indicative of his superiority as a fighter. For those in Eubank Jr’s corner, conceding a little
territory early was never going to be a problem in a 12-round bout, with the Briton likely to
make up whatever ground he lost early later on in the fight.
We will never know, but unsurprisingly, Eubank Jr had plenty to say in the wake of his victory, claiming that ‘karma is a real thing, whatever he’s done, I don’t know, there’s a reason whatever happened,
happened’. Given the way the first round went many may criticize his apparent lack of
humility, though even Eubank Jr himself didn’t appear delighted with the result, saying it
‘wasn’t the dream I had’.
That sentiment is one that likely rings true for most of the fans who tuned in for the fight. The
early signs were what many expected them to be, with Korobov seeming to have the upper
hand from a technical standpoint. Whether Eubank Jr would have ultimately had the edge
over 12 rounds as expected, however, is a question we’ll never know the answer to.