Ben sent me a longish message on Wednesday evening that wasn't a reply to one I had sent him. I practically fell off the chair. The message was just a chatty thing saying he'd started watching “Cosmos” by Neil deGrasse Tyson from 2014 and particularly recommended episode 3 “When Knowledge Conquered Fear.”
Last night we went for a pizza in Corleone. A regular occurrence I will grant you but this time it was his suggestion not mine. A whole hour's scintillating chat about elliptical orbits (don't you wish you'd been there), then he showed me the new car he has bought. The student has become the master.
For so long that it seems forever, it has seemed obvious to me that Eubank Senior doesn't like the idea of Junior boxing and is terrified every time he ducks through the ropes into the ring. I've have always thought it was at the heart of the boy's mysterious blind adoption in Las Vegas.
Eubank began his amateur career in 2007. With the winning of his sixth amateur fight, he became the Amateur Golden Gloves Champion for the State of Nevada in his weight division of 165 lbs. With his eighth amateur fight he became the Amateur Golden Glove Champion for the Western States of the United States in his weight division.
It is almost as if his dad, if he couldn't dissuade him, sent him out to the States to prove he was serious by doing it on his own. (Eubank Snr's own father sent him to New York when he was 16 to keep him our of trouble in London, and that is where he started training.)
As for the specific objections to this upcoming Benn fight, I think he has got a point. In 2013 I read a short book called Making the Weight: Boxing's Lethal Secret.
Barry J Whyte examines the dangers of boxing’s 24-hour weigh-in by looking into the far-reaching consequences of a fight between Joey Gamache and Arturo Gatti in February 2000. He shines a light on a controversial system which allows boxers to ‘boil down’ for the weigh-in the day before the fight then pile the weight back on in the time left before stepping into the ring. He exposes the extreme physiological dangers both boxers are subject to under this flawed system.
Eubank Jnr is a much bigger man than his opponent Benn so the fight has been set at a catch-weight of 157lbs to which Eubank will sweat down while Benn bulks up. Fair enough you might think, Eubank Jr has fought at the middleweight limit of 160 pounds for a lot of his career, so dropping down three pounds should not be a huge issue, but he has revealed that the rehydration clause prevents him from being over 162 pounds on a Saturday check scaling. Consider that lately though he has been fighting at 168 and probably entering the ring at 180.
Why is this so dangerous? Dehydration is common in many sports. Jockeys frequently dehydrate before big races to avoid handicaps; practitioners of judo and karate regularly lose weight to fit into certain weight categories; Greco-Roman wrestling is rife with it. But boxing is the only sport where such widespread dehydration is followed by repeated punches to the head, often for up to half an hour. If the brain is moved fast enough and hard enough, it will bang into the internal walls of the skull causing system-wide trauma. If a fighter is dehydrated his brain will not be cushioned by as much cerebrospinal fluid and the trauma will be worse.
I am with Dad voting with his heart on this. Chris Eubank remembers what he did to Michael Watson, and I am sure that Nigel Benn remembers what he did to Gerald McClellan.