Roy Jones Jr is wary of attempting to mould Chris Eubank Jr into his mirror image but the former four-weight world champion believes “the sky’s the limit” for his new protege.
Eubank Jr is set to end a 16-month ring absence by fighting Marcus Morrison at the Manchester Arena on Saturday and in his corner will be Jones Jr, with the pair forming an unlikely alliance in the United States during last year’s coronavirus lockdown.
What Jones Jr thought would be a temporary arrangement at his private gym on a farm in Florida turned permanent and he is now attempting to get Eubank Jr’s stop-start career back on track after being appointed as the Briton’s trainer.
But the American, who in 2003 became the first former middleweight titlist to win a heavyweight crown in 106 years, insisted he has no wish to see Eubank Jr imitate the unique style that brought him so much success.
He told the PA news agency: “I’m different than most people because right away I already knew that they expected me to try to teach people to be like me. No, I have to work with your DNA. Everybody’s DNA is going to be different.
“Certain people are going to get certain things better than other people are because of their genetics. I don’t try to teach people to be like me, I’d rather teach people to maximise their DNA, their genetics.
“When you get someone like Chris who’s accomplished so much already, you can’t go in there and tell them, ‘all you’re doing is trash’, it’s not. You’re doing something right, it’s just figuring out how to add to that.
“I want to make him a little bit more of a balanced fighter. He has a lot of tendencies where he’ll fight and then he’ll stop. I need him to speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down, don’t just fight then stop.”
Eubank Jr has developed a reputation of disregarding the advice of past trainers – and he admitted it is “hard for me to trust someone less talented” – but his attitude has pleasantly surprised Jones Jr during their time together.
Jones Jr said: “I thought he was coming for a week and a year later, he’s still here! I love when people love the game enough that they want to learn and he’s one of these guys that wants to learn. I really enjoy that about him.
“A few guys who heard he was coming said, ‘he doesn’t listen’ and I said, ‘we’ll see, if he doesn’t listen, you know me, I’m not going to argue with anybody’, but I wasn’t about to judge him on what they say.
“But when he came, not only did he listen but every time there was a break he was the first one back. I was taken by that because that meant to me he wants to learn.”
Despite wins over the likes of James DeGale and Arthur Abraham, a major world title has so far eluded Eubank Jr (29-2, 22KOs), who has set his sights on Gennady Golovkin after deciding to settle at middleweight.
The 31-year-old’s ambition to draw Golovkin – or any of the other 160lb champions – into a showdown later this year rests on beating the unheralded Morrison (23-3, 16KOs) this weekend and Jones Jr is in optimistic mood.
Jones Jr said: “The sky’s the limit for Chris. Now that he understands what I’m teaching him as far as boxing goes, he knows a new level in boxing now.
“When he got in fights where he got to a roadblock and couldn’t get any further, now he’s got ideas and thoughts and a toolbox that can take him further.”