ON this day, 25 years ago, York’s Henry Wharton stepped into the ring to face the legendary Chris Eubank.

Ten months previously, Wharton had boxed Eubank’s greatest foe, Nigel Benn, in his first shot at the super middleweight world title.

Wharton fell short on that occasion and was left ruing his tactics as a slow start ensured Benn took a unanimous decision from the judges, despite being dropped by Wharton in the fifth round.

After securing a deal to fight WBO champion Eubank at the Manchester Arena (which brought in a sold-out 10,000 crowd), Wharton was determined to avoid a repeat of the Benn fight.

His plan, as he describes it, was a simple one. To relentlessly outwork Eubank from the first bell to the last, preventing him from settling into any rhythm and taking the fight to the champion.

At that point, Eubank’s record stood at an intimidating 40 wins, no defeats, two draws.

He won the middleweight world title in 1990 and claimed the super middleweight version less than a year later. The bout with Wharton was his 14th defence of the title.

Wharton, meanwhile, had recorded two straight-forward stoppage wins after the Benn loss.

Explaining how the bout came about, Wharton said: “I’d just boxed Benn and I had another two fights and at that point I was just waiting on the sidelines for the rematch against Benn.

“I was chasing him up and down the country and that was the fight that I wanted. At the time, it seemed like he was avoiding me.

“I was the number one contender at the time and then the Eubank fight came along.”

It’s clear, though, that Wharton is eager to talk in the main about the fight itself. Questions are asked of the build-up and the press conference, but it’s those 48 minutes that he shared the ring with Eubank which Wharton wants to recall.

His passion for the sport is still evident some 30 years after making his professional debut.

“There’s so many storylines and versions of stories to the fight,” he begins excitedly.

“In the Benn fight, I never did myself justice and I got my tactics wrong. I was punching myself afterwards because I boxed in a way that I’d never boxed before and I paid the price. I said that I’d never do that again and the next person I boxed I’d go for it, as I always did. I’d seen Eubank tire late in his recent defences. My intention was to set the pace from round one to round 12.”

“And I’m going to attack and keep going, no matter,” he adds, speaking as if the bout is just days away.

“I was hoping that he wouldn’t be able to live with my pace and that I’d get to him eventually.

“In the end, I set a pace that was too hard for me. But there was no stopping me because I was that determined to win.

“No matter how tired I was, I kept going. In the back of my mind, I always thought that he’d break.

“I never saw myself losing the fight. Even though he won the fight, in the corner I was thinking ‘I’ll find a way to win’.

“The rounds in the fight were so close and there wasn’t a lot in that fight at all.

“I could feel that in the fight and I felt so close to getting the better of him.”

Wharton would continue boxing for another four years after the Eubank defeat. He returned to the Barbican in York in July of the following year and emphatically won the European title against Mauro Galvano by knockout.

In 1997, he earned a third shot at the world title, against Robin Reid, and came the closest of the three attempts in a Reid majority decision.

Wharton, though, says that the fighter that stepped through the ropes against Eubank wasn’t the same fighter that left the Manchester Arena on that winter’s evening.

“The one thing that I do remember from that night, which was the biggest thing that happened, was that I broke something in him and I also broke something in me,” he says.

“He was never the same fighter again and neither was I (Eubank lost the title in his next fight and never regained it).

“I fought on after that but, if I’m brutally honest, I was never the same fighter.

“I can’t put my finger on what it was. I’m not sure whether it was something mentally or physically, but it was something.

“I always look back and think that I was never ever the same fighter after that.

“He hit me hard that night and I hit him hard and we did something that we’ll never forget.

“But I was never the same. As a fighter, you can only go to the well so many times. I had pushed myself to the extremes against Eubank.”

The 1990s were seen as a golden era for British boxing, with the Benn versus Eubank rivalry at its peak.

Wharton continues: “At that time, it was an era of super human fighters. It was like the time of the giants.

“Everybody who was anybody in boxing at the time was a name.

“I won’t say that it was better than any other era, but it was a very special time in boxing.

“The division was absolutely booming.

“That Eubank fight was the biggest I ever had.

“It’s not very often that times come around like that.

“Obviously, the special ones were the fights between Benn and Eubank.

“To get to that elite level and take them on, it was where I belonged, but it was so exciting.

“Those fights were massive. Both Benn and Eubank were massive characters as well.

“But you can’t fool the boxing public and they know a good set of fighters when they see them.

“Eubank and Benn have stood the test of time because they were from another planet.

“They set a precedent for British boxing.

“Hopefully, I did the same for boxing in York, to give young people hope and opportunity.”