09 November 2023

Harlem Eubank driven by family tragedy ahead of global title bout

09 November 2023

Harlem Eubank will try to channel the emotion of the latest tragedy to affect his family when he walks out at Brighton Centre on Friday night for his maiden fight at the venue.

Eubank, the nephew of former two-division world champion Chris Eubank Sr, will box in his city for the first time since his professional debut in 2017 when he faces German super-lightweight Timo Schwarzkopf for the WBO global belt.

Friday is arguably Brighton’s biggest night of boxing since the elder Eubank defended his WBO middleweight title against Dan Sherry at the same venue in 1991, but grief has gripped the family in recent years.

It started with Chris’s son Sebastian dying in 2021 after a heart attack and at the beginning of Harlem’s fight camp in September, his father Simon died after five years with dementia.

“Dad wasn’t able to express himself,” Harlem Eubank told the PA news agency.

“When you know someone, how active that someone is, how they want to be outside cycling or running, it feels like their spirit is almost trapped in a body that is kind of unusable.

“It was difficult to see him degrade and deteriorate over the years, especially in the last few years when it became more rapid.

“I feel he is at peace now and I believe the spirit lives on. I do have strong faith in God and that helps because I know he is free now. He had strong faith as well and he is not trapped any more.

“He is in a different realm and my focus is now doing my best to do him proud because I am sure he is looking down on me.

“I am carrying a lot on my shoulders and that inspires me to work hard every day. To go in there and give the best account of myself. It gives me inner strength and inner drive.

“It is something that is hard to explain until it happens, but it has given me an inner power that drives me on knowing that they are watching and then having my cousin’s son Raheem, my godson, it gives me a different drive and energy going forward.

“I am just trying to carry that. Do my family proud and to lead by example.”

Harlem Eubank is not alone in dealing with the loss of his father, with Chris Sr going through the same process – which has resulted in the pair joining forces ahead of the Wasserman boxer’s fight with Schwarzkopf on Channel Five.

However, had Harlem’s teenage years panned out differently, he could have kicked a ball under the Brighton lights instead.

Part of Albion’s academy between the ages of 12 and 16, the undefeated fighter occasionally trained with Lewis Dunk until he was released, which led to a spell at Lewes alongside Solly March before he lost his love for football.

He has been to the top of the mountain and it is refreshing that he speaks so highly of me. It is beautiful to have him by my side now going into this next chapter of my career.

This opened the door to follow in the footsteps of his father, his uncle and his cousin Chris Eubank Jr, but Roberto De Zerbi’s high-flying Europa League outfit serve as a source of inspiration.

He reflected: “I have seen Brighton go from the Withdean to the Amex (Stadium) and through the leagues into a position now where they are a force in the (Premier League).

“It is inspiring and I want to replicate that success in the world of boxing and achieve world honours. I believe I am capable of doing that and this is the next step on Friday.

“It is a special one, the homecoming. I haven’t fought in my city for a long time.

“People are excited about it and I feel these type of boxing nights are needed in Brighton to put boxing back on the map in the city.

“Albion, the football club, are leading the way but I feel like we have a space to shine a light on boxing in Brighton now too.”

To help Harlem Eubank negotiate the next chapter of his 18-fight career will be uncle Chris, who has been gushing in his praise for the 30-year-old and tipped him to beat Conor Benn – who was set to fight Chris Eubank Jr in 2022.

“He has been to the top of the mountain and it is refreshing that he speaks so highly of me,” Harlem Eubank added.

“It is beautiful to have him by my side now going into this next chapter of my career.

“It feels like this is a big, pivotal moment in my career. A moment that pushes me into a position to big fights domestically and globally.”

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