Eubank Jr. vs Smith – Who wins and why?
The first UK fight of the year is set to kick 2023 off with a bang!
Liverpool's Liam Smith (32-3-1, 19KO) and Brighton boxer Chris Eubank Jr. (32-2, 23KO) will collide in Manchester on Saturday, January 21, in a 12-round middleweight contest.
Both Brits are former world champions, but Smith's reign as WBO super-welterweight titlist was many years ago now, during 2015-2016, and Eubank Jr's two IBO World super-middleweight and WBA Interim middleweight titles are questionable, as some would argue the IBO is not widely recognised and the Interim belt is not a full world title.
Regardless of these finer points, both are ranked within the top six in the world – Eubank is WBC #2, WBA #6, WBO #2, IBO #2 at middleweight, and Smith is WBC #3, WBA #4, IBF #6, WBO #2, IBO #3. So this is a fantastic fight between two Brits who are just one fight away from a world title shot. But who wins, why and how? Check out our expert's opinions below:
George Groves, Former WBA super-middleweight world champion
“I make Eubank the favourite, he’s got natural size to his advantage, he’s the A-side. And people are starting to like him now, I think he likes that.
“We’ll see if he can get under Liam Smith’s skin, Liam’s been about but he is temperamental – he does bite.
“It could be a real banana skin for Eubank, Smith is a neat and tidy boxer and does a lot of things well. It depends what version of Eubank shows up.
“Eubank needs to come and throw volume and try and hurt Smith to the body, put him under pressure as the bigger man.
“It also depends how tight he is at the weight, but I think Eubank wins.”
Amir Khan, Former unified super-lightweight world champion
“Liam Smith was my sparring partner when I was fighting Canelo, he's a hard worker, trains very hard. You know, he's got great pressure and he hits quite hard.
“I've got Liam winning that fight, even though a lot of people are going to favour the younger fighter in Chris Eubank Jr. but I just feel that experience, in this case, takes over.”
Dalton Smith, British super-lightweight champion
“It's a very exciting fight, one I'm looking forward to.
“I can see Liam winning that fight, just on experience. I've always rated Liam as a fighter. I think he's one of the strongest of the Smith brothers, I can see it's a fight he'll win.”
Miles Shinkwin, Former English light-heavyweight champion
“Liam Smith wide points!”
Rick Ramos, Boxing Trainer & Manager
“Competitive early on, but I think Eubank Jr. gets the stoppage late.”
Arijan Goricki, Featherweight prospect
“I think that fight will be entertaining and that Liam will win the early rounds because he's the fundamentally much better then Eubank. But in the mid rounds Eubank will put pressure on and he will break down Smith with his work rate and possibly stop him in the later rounds.”
Tim Rickson, BBN Editor
“Former world champs, British rivals, winner likely to get a shot at a world champion next… this is some fight to kickstart 2023 with!
“Some argue the IBO isn’t a world title, but, for me, as an organisation they are reputable and honest, and it takes hard word and talent to win one of their belts. I have never had any reason to disregard them as a recognised governing body, and they have had some big name champions such as Gennadiy Golovkin, Anthony Joshua, Ricky Hatton.
“The world rankings show that these two are very equally matched on paper, but, in terms of styles, they couldn’t be any more different.
“Smith will want to fight up close to pressure, bully and break down Eubank over time, but his reformed style, under Roy Jones Jr., will likely see him maintain a safe distance between them where he will try to pick Smith off with his quick hands. Whenever they do go head to head, Eubank is very cute on the inside and will likely be able to land some damaging shots.
“There's also the size difference. Eubank has won titles at middle and super-middle, so he will have the size advantage and should use that to bully Smith back. Under RJJ, he is no longer a bully, aggressive or wild; he is patient and poised, elusive and economical. He was taught that he didn't need to go to war every single time and he's now prepared to play out a longer game plan in fights. Against Liam Williams, he had the Welshman down so many times, but was satisfied to let it go all the way to the 12th round, even though he could have probably finished him off if he wanted to.
“I like Liam Smith, always enjoy watching his fights. The war with Anthony Fowler was a particular favourite of mine. I think he will make this a hard, tough fight for Eubank, pressuring him, walking him down constantly. But I think, despite his experience, he might get a bit wound up by Eubank pre-fight and during the fight itself. This could cause him to lose his head and take unneccessary risks.
“I think Eubank will be cute and clever in the first half of the contest to keep away from and frustrate Smith, then up the work rate in the second half to pull away and win the fight on points.”
Steve Wood, Manager & Promoter
“Going for a Eubank win although Liam Smith is one of my favourite fighters.
“Have seen a slight slowing down in Liam in his last couple of fights, including being put over by Fowler early and although he got in the groove to win well, like in his last fight, I just feel the early sharpness from Eubank will be too much with his extra size and power – Hope I am wrong!”
Daniel Smith, BBN Writer
“Boxing’s a dirty business, and unless Smith gets the stoppage or clearly wins every round by a country mile, then I cannot see any judge giving him the nod, for the Eubank/Benn fight carries too much financial clout to be tarnished by a Liam Smith points victory come Saturday Jan 21st.
“Heart says Smith but head calls Eubank.”
Ben Day, Former Southern Area champion
“I really like this fight, really good stylistically, both being so different, which will make it really exciting
“Liam, in my opinion, will march forward, cut off the ring and work away hard and spiteful. I think Chris will box nicely with a fast jab throwing it from the waist which will give Liam problems through his high guard and Chris will box well with his movement and subtle feints, it’s very hard to call but I’m edging Eubank slightly.”
Uros Djikanovic, Boxing Manager & Advisor
"I think this fight will be very thrilling to watch. Both fighters are experienced and are not scared of trading punches in the middle of the ring. With that being said I still think this fight goes to distance and will be decided by judges. I would give a slight edge to Chris Eubank Jr and I think he will come out of this fight as a winner."
John Raspanti, Maxboxing.com
"Smith has granite in his chin. "Beefy" is one tough hombre.
"Eubank is more athletic. He's changed his style since taking on Hall of Famer Roy Jones as his trainer.
"To me, this is the key. Eubank should be able to outbox Smith and win the fight on points. I do expect Smith to rally hard in the last few rounds."