British great Chris Eubank Sr. has opened up to WBN on his real concerns over the safeguarding of Anthony Joshua and his career in the sport.
Eubank, currently in New York helping son Chris prepare for his US debut on Saturday night, took time out of those final hours for a WORLD EXCLUSIVE discussion.
The topic Eubank wanted to cover was the forthcoming heavyweight title rematch between Joshua and heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr.
There are real and deep apprehensions about Joshua as the 2012 Olympic gold medalist heads into his defining night in Saudi Arabia.
On the back of being dropped four times in New York and looking out of his depth, Joshua is thrust back into the limelight on a mission to regain his previous position.
As the fight draws closer, Eubank couldn’t help but reveal his intense fears for Joshua’s welfare.
“AJ is in danger of being seriously hurt on Dec 7th,” Eubank exclusively informed World Boxing News from Brooklyn on Friday evening. “I believe there’s a 70% chance of him suffering a lifelong injury.
“This is very real and we pray for his well-being. I just wish the public could see my intuition – which gives this insight.
“All that is being said right now may well sound absurd but should make sense after the fight. I believe medical physicians and oxygen at ringside will be paramount.
“Wishing I’m wrong is not good enough, because those behind this fight are rightfully about making the money, for their fighter and themselves, at the expense of the fighter.
“But I believe they should also have a duty of care to not endanger their boxer, more so than what is the norm. If a vocation of integrity is what you seek, beware, for it is an arduous and dangerous course.”
Explaining his reasoning for this explosive opinion, Eubank continued: “I believe boxing is so much more dangerous when a boxer like AJ has been fast-tracked through his apprenticeship.
“For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. The price can and may be too high to pay if it’s only about the money.
“The case in point is harsh but accurate – because AJ’s prognosis is as follows: He was fast-tracked in a weak era of heavyweights if you compare this era to the era of the 90s and he is now on the world platform, which leaves him exposed to the few who are properly schooled in boxing. Those who are disguised as boxers but in truth are gladiators; Andy Ruiz being one of the few.
“Remember that the objective is to put your opponent down for the ten count and not a lifetime. This is a very tricky and peculiar phenomena.
“In the cold light of day, AJ was manufactured as a boxer (through no fault of his own). In short, his ability to box is limited and he can’t fight his way out of a fight as he didn’t learn the trade because he had adequate at best, people overseeing his career.
“These men meant him no harm. They were just doing a job of work. For its currency, in its many forms, coupled with the cursed phenomena of our time; INSTANT GRATIFICATION.
“Therefore, if AJ is forced to fight, he has no choice but to fold or quit (like in the first fight).
“This is a harsh prognosis. But if I write gently and am not on point, the perpetrators will continue to treat the lives of these young men like it’s a game of chess. The game of chess has no consequences But boxing can have catastrophic consequences.
“They could end up saying of AJ, ‘Poor chap. He was such a nice guy’. – But they are only truly sorry for a day before everyone moves on and of course, when it’s brought up by the media, which is not good enough. We have to be better than this.
“They continue to put money before the holistic building of a fighter which robs the fans of potentially fantastic boxers while endangering their health and lives. The physical damage he is likely to be exposed to is real.
“The college aspect of a boxer’s career can take three to four years to complete. AJ had his first world championship fight in his 16th fight which is insanely irresponsible and still, no one has flagged this up.
“He has willingly been forced into a hell of a situation because some have little to no insight.”
On the fighter himself and being a firm supporter, two-weight world title holder Eubank obviously holds Joshua in high regard.
“I personally know AJ. He wants to be remembered as a great fighter which, because he has been misled by a money first attitude and damn anything else, is truly sad.
“Mostly every fighter wants to be great but few understand the ramifications of the profound word, ‘Great.’
“Muhammad Ali was stripped of his titles in the three prime years of his career because he stood up and spoke truth to power about the now proven ill-fated Vietnam War. He stood up for human rights. The rights of his countrymen at a time when racism was cruel, in your face and was the status quo.
“THIS is why he is considered ‘Great’. But his boxing prowess was also great. Adding to his convictions saw him voted the iconic sporting figure of the 20th century. That’s what it took for him to be a ‘Great’.
“And Nelson Mandela, a lawyer and politician did 27 years in prison for the equal right of his people. He came out of PRISON to be President of South Africa. His then stance was, all of us South African’s must come together as one people, no matter where their origin. That is also ‘Great’.
“But for AJ to be considered a ‘Great’ in boxing, it doesn’t seem that difficult. Because, for the most part, he only has to get up when he can’t – or carry on when he’s a split second away from quitting.
“The trouble is as follows, one cannot get up if you have been ( through no fault of your own) manufactured. Now his plight is a conundrum of immense complexity.
The masses think and hope he can win back the championships. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to do this.
“Boxing prowess is truly about – the how. The how is a boxing education which he was willingly or otherwise advised to skip for a network’s market share. The gravy train was too good to look out for the well-being of the innocent one.
“Now he’s fighting a sweetheart of a man in Andy Ruiz who is arguably impossible for AJ to beat. This is because Andy did not skip the three to four years of his boxing college education.
“Boxers want respect first and foremost but the need for money almost at the same time.
“AJ’s predicament is that he will have made the money, but whether he will be able to spend it is a real and pertinent observation.
“The general public can’t see that his life is in danger pursuing that money. To win the belts, one has to have authenticity in the building of their craft. In truth, a manufactured boxer cannot beat an authentic one.
“Many have stated that I previously called it best when I said; ‘Andy Ruiz should be likened to a Trojan-horse’. It’s not about how he looks. It’s the real ammunition he holds in his brains. His body has done the most brilliant job of masking a very skilled, clever and dangerous fighter.
“It looks easy for AJ to get that money as he gets paid an amount of money that is fixed, win or lose but the price can truly be a bridge too far.
“These observations are a warning to those who steer the careers and lives of boxers, so irrespective of the outcome in Saudi Arabia, the contest gives us the opportunity to highlight these inalienable truths, which within itself is stimulating enough.
“This is an SOS. Irrespective of the outcome, hear our cries because I know about the hurt. I’ve been hurt and I too have caused the hurt.
“I cry because we suffer in silence.
“This view I have surmised is my opinion,” he concluded.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News and an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay