In a full-fledged grudge match, Billy Joe Saunders (21-0, 12 KOs) used his superior boxing skills to win a 12-round split decision over Chris Eubank Jr. (18-1, 13 KOs) at the ExCel Arena in London, England Saturday night.
The three ringside judges scored the fight 115-114 Saunders, 116-113 Eubank Jr, and 115-113 for Saunders.
Maxboxing and Doghouse had Saunders the winner by a 115-113 score.
Saunders retained his British, European and Commonwealth middleweight titles.
The Saunders game plan was to box.
Eubank Jr’s plan, if you can call it that, was to knock Saunders out.
He never did.
Saunders, a southpaw, did very well in the first five rounds. His movement and defensive abilities made the much stronger Eubank Jr. miss. He stung his taller opponent with jabs and right hands. Saunders deeper boxing pedigree was obvious.
Eubank Jr.upped the ante in round six. He applied more pressure and pushed Saunders back. He landed hard uppercuts on the inside. Saunders retailated with sneaky punches. Eubank Jr. dug to the body. One of his left hooks to the midsection hurt Saunders.
Saunders, the more experienced boxer, made Eubank Jr. pay whenever he ever over-committed. Eubank Jr. bulled Saunders into the ropes, but the clever champion moved his head effectively. Saunders connected with some good shots down the middle. Eubank Jr. whiffed with long left hooks.
The proud Eubank Jr., son of former world middleweight and super-middleweight champion Chris Eubank, battled back with heavy uppercuts. Saunders showed a good chin in absorbing the shots. Both fighters landed good blows in round 11.
Eubank Jr. tried to knock Saunders out in the last stanza. He fired strong punches, but Saunders again avoided most of them. Eubank Jr. did land a heavy hook and uppercut that Saunders had to feel, but it wasn’t enough.
“All the credit to Chris Eubank Jr.," said Saunders in the ring. “He did well. I still have a lot to learn. When I win the world title, I’ll give him a rematch.: