QUINLAN V EUBANK JR - THE UNDERDOG V THE DIVA
The IBO Super-Middleweight Champion, Sydney-based Renold Quinlan, is set to defend the World Title he won by KO’ing Daniel Geale in Tasmania against British contender, Chris Eubank Jr as part of a foray into PPV Boxing from ITV in the UK as they, alongside BT Sport, look to capitalise on the explosion in popularity of the sweet science on British shores.
The fight, scheduled for February 4th at the Lee Valley Velodrome in East London, will see Eubank Jr move up from Middleweight (a division he vowed to ‘clear up’) to Super-Middleweight and will be Eubank’s first World Title challenge having vocally chased and then turned down previous opportunities to fight for the IBF, WBA and WBO Middleweight World Titles last year – as well as a late withdrawal to defend his British Title against Tommy Langford earlier this year which lead promoter Frank Warren to brand him ‘a Joke’.
Warren hasn’t been the only person to complain of how difficult it is to deal with the Eubanks either – Eddie Hearn has, on several occasions criticised the demands from camp Eubank which have included control of ticket prices for the arena. These diva-like demands have characterised Eubank’s short career-to-date and whilst fighters like GGG, Billy Joe Saunders and Danny Jacobs all have a plethora of options open to them, Quinlan’s team must have know this would be their best chance at a huge scalp and an even bigger pay-day and such would have been more than happy to put up with these demands.
The need for control from the Eubank camp even extended as far as asking the Australian and his team to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements around releasing the details of the fight prior to Eubank himself doing so – whilst this may seem a small thing to many, it’s worth remembering that this fight is actually for Quinlan’s title and all these little power-moves are designed to put control into the hands of the Brit, something you can expect to see a lot more of over the coming months. All of this however, is unlikely to phase Quinlan who has already toppled one of Australia’s greatest fighters in Daniel Geale in his home town, knocking out the Tasmanian in front of his home crowd to secure the IBO crown in another fight where nobody expected to see his hand raised.
In terms of previous opponents, whilst Eubank Jr undoubtedly comes into the fight as the ‘A-side’ due to name recognition, his list of opponents is fairly underwhelming to say the least and the only time he has stepped up in class he was comfortable beaten by Billy Joe Saunders. Quinlan on the other hand has just defeated 2-time World Champion Daniel Geale and is no stranger to fighting against the odds, he will have no problems in doing so again as he quietly goes about preparing for the biggest fight of his life.
Compared to the contrived and planned publicity antics of Eubank Jr, Quinlan is an unassuming and quietly charming young fighter who lets his hands do the talking. He will be hoping that Eubank Jr has underestimated the task ahead of him and although the Australian will undoubtedly go into the fight an underdog, it will be his second World Title fight and he is also proven at Super-Middleweights, both things that will be new to the relatively unproven although much-hyped Eubank Jr. He is also no stranger to controversial figures, having come up under the wing of outspoken 3-weight World Champion, Anthony Mundine in Sydney’s Redfern Gym and the experience of working with ‘The Man’ in the lead-up to his fights will have helped prepare Quinlan for the media storm that will hit him as this fight approaches.
Details of the undercard have yet to be revealed and with no mainstream promoter linked with the ITV deal it will be interesting to see how this is put together – with a plethora of free-to-air and PPV Boxing available in the UK next year (including Haye v Bellew in March and Joshua v Klitschko in April) ITV have their work cut out in selling this fight and will be relying heavily upon Eubank Jr and Sr to utilise their star power to sell the event, whilst we are still awaiting details of BT Sport’s first PPV event which is likely to be headlined by Billy Joe Saunders who would love nothing more than to steal the limelight from his former rival.
For the unassuming and often under-rated Quinlan, this is an opportunity to surprise everyone and announce himself to the Boxing World at large on a huge, international platform - particularly in the UK where the talent-rich Super-Middleweight division includes the likes of James DeGale, Callum Smith and George Groves – with such mouth-waering clashes potentially available to the winner, there is much more than a World Title at stake, for now though the focus must be on Eubank Jr and February 4th.