From arrogant, overly-aggressive brawler to slightly less arrogant, slightly less aggressive Super Middleweight Champion of the world - where does Chris 'Next Gen' Eubank Jr. go now?
The obvious answer would be for the other belts, but in my opinion, he's just not ready for those fights yet.
The James 'Chunky' DeGale he beat on Saturday night was not the same fighter that went toe-to-toe with Badou Jack, Andre Dirrell or Caleb Truax. Not by a long shot.
It was unclear whether it was age or emotion that got the better of DeGale, but something had him clinging onto Eubank Jr. all night long and it eventually resulted in him giving the fight away. I'm reticent to say that it was Eubank Jr.'s ability that had 'Chunky' so hit-and-hold-y on the night because in my opinion, Eubank Jr. just didn't look that good. He does seemed to have curbed his instinctive aggression, but not actually improved his boxing skills. Restraint is an improvement though, so hopefully Eubank Jr. continues with new trainer Nate Vasquez and unlocks the potential that we all believe is there.
But regardless, after dealing DeGale a well-deserved body slam and beating him convincingly, Eubank Jr. picked up the belt and is now the IBO Super Middleweight Champion.
There are talks of a Eubank Jr and Billy-Joe Saunders rematch if BJS beats Shefat Isufi on the 13th of April, and in the UK at least that would do absolutely massive PPV numbers.
Personally, I think that the fight will come. However, as is so often the case with grudge matches, it won't be for awhile. There's no way that Eubank Sr. would throw his son into the lions den so soon, but assuming both Saunders and Eubank Jr. hang onto their belts, it's a fight that has to happen.
Fellow Brit Callum Smith is an option, though I think in most people's opinion the 6'3" WBA Champion would absolutely batter Eubank Jr. and make him look terrible. I don't see that fight coming along quickly.
From the final three SMW Champions - Caleb Plant, Anthony Dirrell and Gilberto Ramirez - I believe that Eubank Jr. has the best chance against Ramirez, but, it's not something he should rush into.
If Eubank Jr. makes a few defences and takes fights as they come, all the while working hard with Nate Vasquez, then he could stand himself in good stead for when the huge fights come. It'd be absolutely amazing to see Eubank Jr. stay on this path, so hopefully he doesn't stray!
Alternatively, let Sheriff Eubank Sr. hold the belt and ask him to protect and serve it.
Who do you think should be next for Eubank Jr.? Should he think about taking fights at Middleweight as well as Super Middleweight? How long do you think it'll take before Eubank Sr. starts calling out
EDIT: BJS and Shefat Isufi were to fight for the WBO Super Middleweight belt on 13/04. However, current WBO belt holder, Gilberto Ramirez, has stated in an interview that, "The title I have was never vacant." This means that the victor of BJS and Isufi will become (BJS), or remain (Isufi) the number one contender in the WBO rankings, and will not be crowned champion. This may further slow down any chance of a match-up between BJS and Eubank Jr.