Luke G. Williams reviews British boxing legend Chris Eubank Sr’s showdown with Piers Morgan on ITV1’s ‘Life Stories’ series, broadcast on Thursday night…
Piers Morgan’s occasionally hectoring and tabloid-style interviewing approach is not to everyone’s taste, but the 55-year-old succeeded in skilfully drawing the best out of the ever enigmatic and eternally entertaining Chris Eubank Sr. in Thursday night’s edition of Piers Morgan’s Life Stories broadcast on ITV1.
In a wide-ranging interview, Morgan drew some fascinating insights from the former WBO middle and super-middleweight champion on subjects as diverse as corporal punishment and the contribution of the Windrush generation to British society.
Morgan also quizzed Eubank on his own family and personal history, including his experiences of foster care and homelessness as a child, his post-boxing career bankruptcy and his divorce from former longtime wife Karron.
Morgan’s combative interviewing style and frequent interjections served the programme and Eubank well, preventing the iconic former pugilist from lapsing into over-indulgent loquaciousness, as he is wont to do, and eliciting a range of genuine, insightful and heartfelt responses.
The emotional highpoint of the interview came early on as Eubank reflected on his tragic rematch with Michael Watson on September 21, 1991.
With Watson watching as part of the studio audience, Eubank admitted of that fateful night: “I don’t know whether I can even make sense of what happened… him having to go through what he’s gone through and to still be here. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. It’s the only regret in my career.” With Eubank dissolving into tears, Watson declared: “”It’s okay, Chris. Let’s move on… It’s okay, bruv. Let’s move on in life. I love you, Chris. It’s all in the past.”
Eubank also offered an impassioned and eloquent defence of boxing – a sport he once infamously dismissed as a mug’s game.
“You are a standard bearer,” he said, of the role and status of the pugilist. “As soon as you start fighting in that ring or on that mat … you’ve got the world looking at you because the first instinct of a man is to protect. That is to fight.
“Now can you be a gentleman while you’re doing it? Can you do it truly? Can you go beyond? You can’t win a fight, so do you quit because you can’t win or do you go on taking that beating?
“And if you can go on taking that beating, what you’re doing for the public, you are lifting their spirits. And there’s no better vocation, lifting the spirits of others. You know, whatever your predicament, whatever situation you’re in, you can rise. And that’s what we do.”
Amid the emotion and reflection there were also strands of humour; when Morgan questioned him about his epic victory against Nigel Benn in 1990 (pictured), which announced his arrival on the world scene, Eubank said that his immediate thought in the aftermath of the fight was “that my brothers would finally respect me”.
And what did his brothers say to him after the fight? Morgan asked.
“You’re still a tosspot,” Eubank revealed.
All in all, for this longtime ‘Simply The Best’ fan and admirer, this was one of the finest and most illuminating insights into the Eubank psyche I’ve yet encountered. If you didn’t manage to catch it, it’s well worth checking out via ITV Player.
Main image: Ross Kinnaird/EMPICS Sport/Press Association.