I’ll kick off by saying I’m not afraid to go against popular opinion and say that Eubank Jr vs Blackwell is an ‘actual fight’. Nick Blackwell (19-3-1, 8 KO) is young, hungry, and has the tools to make this a hard night’s work for Eubank Jr. Yes, Blackwell was knocked out by Martin Murray, and lost decisions to Billy Joe Saunders and Max Bursak, but it’s likely those results may have been fairly different if Blackwell’s handlers had nurtured him better during his early career.
It should be noted that Blackwell’s clashes with Saunders and Bursak weren’t one-sided. Quite the contrary, in fact. Blackwell performed well in both outings, losing hard-fought, close decisions. And however you view the threat level of Blackwell, you can’t deny that, based on those competitive clashes against big names alone, he has accomplished more than Eubank.
Both men are aggressive and like to turn on the heat, and if this is a battle of attrition it could become very interesting. Eubank (21-1, 16 KO) carries the more potent TNT but has some gaping holes in his defense which were showcased in the early rounds against Spike O’Sullivan last December. Blackwell, the current British Middleweight champion, isn’t known as a huge puncher, but the guy can certainly bang.
Blackwell isn’t without defensive flaws of his own, however, which was evident when he tackled supposed soft touch Jack Arnfield last November. Blackwell turned in a clear Unanimous Decision that night, but Arnfield was able to tag his man with sneaky shots, particularly the uppercut (if my memory serves me right).
I don’t think Eubank or Blackwell will be used to each other’s awkward styles (Eubank, who leads with uppercuts, is particularly unconventional), and that could cause both fighters to be cagey in the opening rounds. I’ve a feeling, given their come-forward styles, that this fight will turn into a back-and-forth war sooner or later, which will of course please the crowd.
Right, time to wrap this up. While I consider Blackwell to be a legitimate threat, I foresee Eubank Jr getting his hand raised at the end of this one. Yes, Eubank has been the more protected without question, but he’s in very good company, and especially now with new trainer Adam Booth in tow. I wouldn’t be surprised if we notice improvements in Eubank’s game.
Part of me believes we could be about to witness another upset, but that would be suggesting Blackwell is rubbing shoulders with Billy Joe Saunders (who has beaten both men), and I think that would be inaccurate. Not grotesquely, but definitely inaccurate at this point. Lastly, don’t forget to chime in with your own prediction for this matchup in the comments.
Eubank Jr vs Blackwell Prediction: Chris Eubank Jr via 10th Round TKO