Defeat is a dark place to be, especially when you believed you were ordained to win.
In the build-up to his first fight with Liam Smith, Chris Eubank Jr did not ever envisage losing. He claimed he only needed to be at half-strength to win. He certainly did not countenance being dropped for the first time, let alone being stopped for the first time.
He might have lost before, but never like this.
“I’m definitely a man on a mission. He sent me on that mission. I have to avenge this loss,” Eubank Jr told Sky Sports.
“There’s definitely renewed focus because he has a win over me. I cannot make a single mistake from here on out against this guy. Did I underestimate him a little bit? Maybe.
“Was I overconfident? I wouldn’t say that. I’m always confident. That’s how I’ve always been. That’s how I’ve always fought and I’ve always believed in myself 100 per cent.”
But he didn’t expect Smith to hurt him.
“Did I think he could buzz me the way he did? No,” Eubank admitted.
“He showed me that you have to be responsible at all times. I was extremely confident going into that fight. I was extremely confident during the fight. I dominated the first three rounds, the third round I started hurting him. Maybe that gave me a false sense of security or made me have a short period of lack concentration and he took advantage of that.
“It was my fault and I have to make sure I never let that happen again,” he continued. “There was no bookie, there was no one in the industry, no fan that really thought he was going to put me down.
“But that’s the thing about boxing. You never know until you know.”
It prompted a period of introspection. “Soul-searching” as Eubank called it. He chose to face his tormentor again and box Smith a second time, live on Sky Sports Box Office this Saturday.
“You have to do some soul-searching,” he said. “There’s an added danger to this fight. I’ve never fought in a rematch before. So that’s something I’m going to have to experience and overcome.
“It should have never happened. But it’s not enough to believe that. I have to go out there and prove it.“
If that history is not to repeat itself, he needed to change: “You have to adapt. You have to learn from your mistakes.”
He decided to do that by going back to where it all began for him. Las Vegas. ‘Sin City’ is known for excess. For the opulence of some of its casinos, the faded glamour of others, the events that it attracts, the wealth it creates for a select few and the money that flows clean away from others.
Beyond the bright neon lights of the Strip, it is a very different city. If the championship fights of its arenas exemplify Las Vegan extravagance, its boxing gyms embody how fiercely tough life can be in the Nevada heat.
Training and sparring in these hard gyms was where Chris Eubank Jr started his path through boxing. It’s where, as an amateur with a surname that was famous back in England, he went to learn his trade.
“It’s where I would get my a*** kicked every week for months and months and years and years and that’s built the foundation of what I am now,” he said.
“Being in these gyms in Vegas, travelling around and sparring guys, learning. We’re going back to that.”
It’s where he trained “for brutality”.
“That’s what you go through in these gyms around the world, sparring guys, training when you’re sore, when you have no energy, when you’re sick,” he said. “You’re not 100 percent, like you are in a fight, if you’ve trained right.
“You have to go through all these things.”
His camp for the first Liam Smith fight was in his Brighton home town, on his terms. Even Smith took exception to the calibre of sparring partners he was using then.
But for their second clash Eubank is keeping very different company.
“Training at the Top Rank gym, which is the original gym that I kind of started training at. That’s where I met Mike McCallum and Floyd Mayweather Senior. I’ll probably work out of Floyd’s gym too. I’ve come full circle,” he said.
“I’m seeing guys that were there when I was a teenager and are still there, it’s incredible. I’ve been training alongside Devin Haney, Shakur Stevenson, Terence Crawford’s been in there, Andre Ward. I’m looking at all these guys and I’m like how could I train anywhere else?
“There’s levels to this. You absorb their energy,” he added. “It’s a great atmosphere, it’s a great environment as long as you have the discipline to stay off the Strip, which I do because I’ve been around it my whole life.
“I’m 33 years old. You don’t jump up levels at this late stage in the game. But that energy, it just helps you to perform in the gym. It helps you to keep that momentum going when you see other guys who are in the same position as you, the same level as you pushing forward. It just helps you. You push each other up.”
It’s a voyage of rediscovery. He’s finding himself. It might mark a return to his old style, the relentless, high-octane volume-punching that marked him out on his rise through the boxing ranks.
“I keep hearing this. ‘The old Eubank back,'” he said. “The old Eubank didn’t disappear. He never left.
“You evolve, you adapt your style to certain fighters. The old Eubank and the new Eubank are the same guy. It’s always going to be there, I just use it when I want to use it.
“Maybe in this fight I’m going to have to use it a lot more than I did in the previous fight. You guys will have to find out.”
While in Las Vegas he also joined a new trainer, Brian “BoMac” McIntyre and his team. McIntyre is the long-time coach of Terence Crawford, widely regarded as the best fighter in the sport after beating Errol Spence last month.
It’s brought in what Eubank described as a new “infrastructure”.
“I’ve not trained in the mornings in five years,” Eubank said. “Now I’m training twice a day. I will prove that night was one-off. It’s not going 12 rounds. I will knock him out.”
A wounded fighter, Eubank still believes he has the tools to win.
“This is not a rebuild job. It’s not like I got battered for four rounds and then knocked out. In my opinion I was dominating the fight and I made a mistake,” he said.
“So in that sense it’s not rebuilding. It’s not really looking at what I didn’t do right. It’s more of not giving him any opportunity in this next fight to do something like what he did last time.
“I know I’m a better fighter than him. I felt the dominance in those early rounds. It’s not about worrying about if I’m not good enough or not having the confidence to go in there and beat the man that has a win over me.
“I truly believe that I’m a better fighter. I just have to go out there and prove it.
“Some people don’t do [take rematches]. A lot of fighters don’t do it. If they lose to a guy that’s it, ‘I don’t want to get in the ring with that guy again, let me find somebody else.’ That’s not me,” Eubank declared.
“I don’t want to live with a guy having a win over me. If I can avenge that loss, absolutely I’m going to do that.”
On Saturday he goes into the fight that will define him. The pressure that comes with that is undeniable.
But he reflects: “I’ve been dealing with sickening amounts of pressure from day one. My first fight was on Channel 5, two million viewers. My debut and in the commentary they’re comparing me to my old man, who was a legendary world champion. It’s my debut fight.
“The pressure has been unbelievable during my career. This is nothing different. This is a new type of pressure because I’ve never fought somebody that has a win over me. So that’s a new type of pressure.
“But pressure’s pressure and I deal with it well. I deal with it all the same. It brings the best out of me. I didn’t really have much pressure in the last fight. I was very confident. I may have underestimated him a little bit, a lot of people thought I should win, the bookies thought I should win, a lot of boxing fans said I was going to win. There’s always pressure in a fight but it wasn’t huge.
“Now it’s huge. I cannot let that man have a win over me twice.”
Liam Smith vs Chris Eubank Jr II is live on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday