FOR some it is the greatest moment in Irish sport.
For those there at The Green Glens Arena, Millstreet, it is certainly the best sporting atmosphere they have experienced.
This day 25 years ago panto villain extraordinaire Chris Eubank Jr came to Ireland to put his WBO super middleweight title on the line against Dublin’s Steve Collins in what was the English man’s 20th World title fight.
A massive, controversial, out spoken star of sport at the time was coming to Cork to defend his title against a challenger with a ready to fight reputation.
Collins employed the services of hypnotist Tony Quinn who allegedly trained the Cabra man to ignore pain so he could outlast Eubank in the ring. That mystical element spooked Eubank.
At the time of the fight, Eubank said
”For the 43 fights I’ve had in the past I’ve always known what I was going in to. I don’t know what I’m dealing with tonight. I’m fighting someone that has been mechanically altered and that’s an unknown area. I shouldn’t be put into this situation.”
But aside from those mild protestations, Eubank did agree to fight and speaking over 20 years later told Off The Ball:
“This is the point. It wasn’t about Steve Collins. It wasn’t about an Irishman being the first to beat Chris Eubank. This was about the man who was champion of the world, who had . . .Balls, the balls to come to Ireland on St Patrick’s Day weekend and fight another Irishman when I didn’t need to. I came here twice. This is not about winning or losing. This is about balls. This is about defiance. Ireland. St Patrick’s Day. This is about spirit.”
The build up was massive, the occasion even bigger and the result is now a thing of Irish sporting folklore as Collins became the first man to beat Eubank and buckled the WBO World title around his waist.
“I think it was the best performance of my career,” Collins has said since.
“There was more at stake than ever before and there was far more pressure than ever before. I’m a lazy guy, I need that pressure to operate and the pressure of that fight was what brought the best out in me.
“I knew I had to cut him off and use a lot of combinations. It was all part of the plan and we really did put a lot of emphasis on that in the lead up to it. It just came together on the night.”
As the judges tallied their decisions, Eubank shouted out to the gathering, ‘I got the draw’, but it was ‘The Celtic Warrior’ who was simply the best on the night.
“It could’ve been ‘and still’, but that was it when I heard ‘and the new’. That was all I wanted to hear. As soon as he said new, I roared ‘yes’, it really was a dream come true.”
Re live it below: