Smith vs Eubank Jr 2 – Repeat or Revenge?
Liam Smith (33-3-1, 20KO) and Chris Eubank Jr (32-3, 23KO) will meet again just six months on from their first encounter, on July 1 at the AO Arena, Manchester, live on Sky Sports.
On paper, the pair couldn’t be any matched any closer, and the same applies in reality too. The first fight was evidence of that as the pair bested each other for two rounds each. The opener was close, with Smith just about getting the bigger shots in, then Eubank began to gauge the range to tee off from distance on Smith in rounds two and three, until he naïvely held his feet for too long in the fourth and got caught by two mighty lefts from Liam to succumb to his first ever stoppage defeat.
Eubank initiated the rematch clause in order to right the wrong, stating he can’t move forward in his career until he gets his own back. For Smith, he has accepted the rematch because he has already knocked his man out and will be confident of doing the same again.
The First Fight
Both boxers looked super sharp in the opening round. Eubank had his left jab arm hanging low by his hip as it flicked it out speedily. Smith was tucked up behind his usual highguard, moving his head usefully and playing peekaboo. Eubank was landing sharp jabs, but Smith was feinting, trying to draw the jab, and looked so patient in his style and confident in his ability that he was able to land some cracking counters. Close opener, but Smith just edged it with his better work. Eubank’s chin was always too high as he pulled out of exchanges and looked vulnerable in the exchanges.
Eubank changed it up to box on the outside in round two and create some distance between them, which prevented Smith from getting into range, but Smith stuck to him like glue, and Chris had to work and hard and use up a lot of energy as he was constantly stalked by the scouser.
Midway through round three, Smith stood still, waited too long to throw, and became a sitting target for Eubank who was teeing off on him, landing jabs and uppercuts for fun, but not all penetrated through the tight guard.
The third was such a good round for Eubank that he became a bit too comfortable and complacent in the fourth. When he was backed into the corner, he neither held nor fired back, instead moving his head and upper trunk cockily, fully exposed and not respecting his opponent’s power, and was stunned with a big left uppercut and ensuing left hook that each did the real damage, both big shots part of a relentless 10-12 punch barrage.
Junior had to take his third loss, but this one was more difficult than the others as it was his first ever stoppage defeat.
34 from Liverpool, former WBO WOrld champion Smith likes to fight at mid to close range. He has a very high guard, where he peeks over the top in a hunched position, feinting and slot-changing to draw the punches out from his opponents, where he will exploit gaps and aim to get inside and counter.
33 from Brighton, Eubank is a great athlete who likes to fight at range, where he uses his long levers to flick out his jab and land big uppercuts and left hooks. He is a flashy fighter, often holding his left arm low to flick it out upwards from his hip.
It’s this clash of styles which made for such a thrilling fight in January. Smith was persistently stalking the former the two-time IBO champion who was landing from the outside and racking up the rounds until the surprise stoppage.
Both boxers are the finished article at this stage of their careers, so neither one has a lot of capacity for change having had their pro debuts in 2008 (Smith) and 2011 (Eubank).
Smith is 8/11 with Betway to repeat history, while Eubank is a 23/20 to take revenge. Odds for a draw are quite low at 12/1.
The way the first fight played out is going to have such an impact on how fight number two goes.
Trained by Joe McNally, Smith knows he has the power to hurt Eubank and stop him, and being such a patient, self-assured fighter, with a distinctive, definitive style sharpened over many years of training camps, he will be confident in his game plan and ability, and will play it out to the letter.
Eubank is confidence and arrogance personified, so you could imagine that taking a stoppage loss won’t affect him like it would anyone else. He’ll naturally bounce straight back into his role of being brash and bumptious, however, many fighters will testify that after being knocked out, you lose a part of yourself that you can never get back again. There will be plenty of trash talking and bravado exuding from him in the build-up to fight night, but how much of it will just be bluster?
In the first fight, he constantly goaded Smith about how he’ll only be performing at 60 per cent for their fight and how that should just about be enough… those words came back to bite him big time!
I’m not sure exactly what hiring David Haye to the team will bring to Eubank’s training, especially as RJJ is someone who will only lead and not play second fiddle to anyone. So it’s difficult to see what Haye can add, other than to help build the fight.
In this rematch, Smith will likely be exactly the same, but Eubank may approach the fight differently. He used to be a bit too wild, crude and aggressive in the earlier stages of his career, at a time when George Groves showed a superior quality to beat him unanimously in 2018, becoming the second time he had been outboxed, having dropped a decision to Billy Joe Saunders in 2014. But he has adopted a different style since teaming up with the legendary Roy Jones Jr. where he likes to give himself some room to land his shots from range in a showman style.
I think both boxers have the power to hurt each other and this will be very closely fought yet again. Eubank would probably do best to keep the distance and try to tee off from range, but Smith will close the gap at several different times during each round, which is where he will pose a lot of threat. If Eubank doesn’t get out of trouble when it comes or hold, then it could be a repeat result.
Eubank has the stamina to fight clever for the full 12, but Smith will be composed and will take exactly as long as he needs to employ his strategy. But then, will Eubank try to find the aggression of old to not let it go the full distance? Like I mentioned earlier, neither man has a big capacity for change.
If this pair are much the same from fight one, then I can imagine Eubank scoring the early rounds as he plays it safe from range, being busy on his jab, not wanting to get closed down or caught cold again, while Smith stalks and tries to get into range. When Smith does close the gap, because he certainly has the IQ and thr tricks to outwit his rival, I think Eubank will be more sensible this time to clinch.
However, contrary to what Eubank has said, I believe lightning can strike twice, and Smith, who is such a clinical finisher, will be able stop Eubank again. He has the know-how; the more practised, proven style; he can match Eubank for stamina and power, but is also just more wily and wise, cunning and calculated. He will take his time to exact his tactics, will be able to get into range, will be able to set traps and find the gaps, and will unleash fury when the moments are presented to him.
Smith to stop Eubank in rounds 6-12.