Brighton Rocks: The seaside city readies itself for the return of a very famous name

IT IS 32 years and eight months since anyone called Eubank has boxed in the family’s long-time hometown of Brighton.

But on Friday night Harlem Eubank, the nephew of Christopher Livingstone, takes up the mantle on the seafront in the toughest test of his career to date when he takes on Timo Schwarzkpof.

It was February 23, 1991, when Eubank Snr beat Dan Sherry at Brighton’s Conference Centre, a homecoming fight of sorts, just three months after his hugely significant victory over Nigel Benn in Birmingham. He would never box down there again, with Chris Jnr not boxing there at all.

But now Harlem, whose birthday also happens to be February 23, is the man to get the family name’s back up in lights by the sea. “You could say that this has been my destiny,” he said. “That it was meant to be and was written in the stars, but this isn’t going to be a one-off, I want to make this the first of many big nights of boxing in my city.”

This first outing is no walkover, with the 22-5 (13) Kosovo-born German Schwarzkopf in town to spoil the party. Although he is only 32, he has been a pro for 13 years and even boxed Junior Witter a decade ago. British fans may also be familiar with him from his 10-round unanimous decision loss to Jack Catterall in Dubai in 2019.

He is a sharp puncher and all but one of his 13 stoppages to date have come inside the opening four rounds but Harlem, still undefeated, is more than capable of staying out of any serious trouble against Schwarzkopf. As well as Catterall, the visitor has dropped 10-round decisions to the likes of Chris van Heerden and Anthony Yigit and expect him to do the same here.

Although Eubank, who is now being guided by his famous uncle, will have to do it over 12 as he boxes the full distance for the first time in his career. His slick skills should allow him to box his way to a clear points win but a stoppage here, against a man never beaten inside the distance, would be a statement live on Channel 5.

Since stepping into the team following the death of his brother and Harlem’s father Simon in September, Eubank Snr has declared that this will be his nephew’s final fight at 140lbs as he plots a path towards a welterweight encounter with Conor Benn, still currently in talks about a fight with Eubank Jnr. Those two are expected to clash early in 2024 but should that fight fall through, Senior says he has another Eubank ready and waiting to step in.

“Conor Benn, this is the fight for you,” Senior said regarding Harlem. “He’s 147lbs. You’re not 154lbs, you’re certainly not 160lbs. You’re a great fighter. I think he’s a great fighter. Certainly a greater boxer. This bad blood you’re supposed to have with my son. There’s no bad blood there, he’s only interested in money. But Harlem is interested in actually being No.1.”

First thing’s first, however, no slip ups at the Brighton Centre against Schwarzkopf.

A late addition to this card was super-middleweight contender Lerrone Richards, who has signed a long-term promotional deal with Wasserman, which kicks off with an eight-rounder against Blackburn’s Mickey Ellison here.

The Carshalton man has been out in the cold somewhat since his career-best win over Carlos Gongora in December 2021. He has boxed just once since, a four-round demolition of Harry Matthews, but will be hoping this new link up will pave the way back towards the top of the division.

Eubank is not the only local man in action as Shoreham heavyweight Tommy Welch also boxes here for the first time as a professional. The 28-year-old son of ‘Brighton Rock’ Scott, who is also his trainer, makes his fourth appearance of 2023 in an eight-rounder against the 5-0 Johnathan Vergaga, who represents the first undefeated opponent of his career.

Another of Welch’s fighters, Tiernan Bradley, is also in action as he meets Polish visitor Michal Bulik over six at super-lightweight. The Dublin man is 7-0 and will box in his adopted hometown of Brighton for the first time on a hot streak of five consecutive inside-distance wins. Bulik, meanwhile, was stopped by Campbell Hatton in five in May and another stoppage is likely here.

In the card’s only 10-rounder, there is a run-out for Kazakhstan’s big-punching southpaw Sultan Zaurbek but at the time of writing there was no opponent assigned. Earlier, in the first fight of the international broadcast, there is a debut for the highly rated Wickford man Tom Welland, who faces Spain’s Francisco Rodriguez over four.

There is also a four rounder for Tyson’s Fury’s brother Roman, 27, who fights out of Manchester. Fury beat Erik Nazaryan over four in his last outing, on June 16, and he will face 1-5-1 Liverpudlian Bradley Davies at the Brighton Centre.

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