Chris Eubank Jr stopped for the first time in his career by Liam Smith
A sold-out crowd in Manchester were stunned when Liam Smith (33-3-1, 20KO) knocked out Chris Eubank Jr (32-3, 23KO) on Saturday night, January 21, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Smith backed Eubank into the corner, in round four, where he unleashed a volley of heavy shots, catching the Brighton boxer with a big uppercut followed by a left hook to the temple. The 33-year-old former IBO world champion was dropped heavily and when he returned to his feet, his legs were uncontollable at first, but he beavely managed to rejoin the fight before another assault from Smith put him back down again, and that was enough for Victor Loughlin to wave off the contest.
Post-fight, a wounded Eubank commented on the events, “Listen, big congratulations to him,” he said. “I felt like I could have gone on but he caught me with a great shot. The build-up was the build-up, it got a bit ugly in the end, I regretted that and I respect you and I respect your family. I will return. If the fans want a rematch we can get it on at Anfield but big respect man, I appreciate it.”
This brief exchange of words was then followed up by a message from Eubank Jr on social media, reading: “Congratulations to Liam tonight, nice lil shot you caught me with there my boy. Felt like I could of kept going but the referee is in charge & I respect his decision. We’ll get it on again soon.”
BBN questioned their panel of trusted boxing experts to find out what they thought:
Frank Buglioni, World title contender & British champ
“Liam is a solid boxer and fighter. Years of experience and being in with numerous world class operators has made him a quality fighter. The Smith brothers share a huge wealth of knowledge when it comes to boxing, combining all the coaching and fights they’ve had over the years. Liam's performance was a testament of that. Started strong and then bounced back after a hard third round. As he said, he is a strong finisher with killer instinct, which he clearly showed on Saturday.
“Being weight drained has a huge impact on punch resistance and recovery. The weight cut may have been too much for him. Although he looked in phenomenal shape once again, as you age, bone and muscle density increase and getting down in weight gets harder and harder. Eubank should be at 168 – here he is at his best, in my opinion. I’d like to see him take some down time, recharge, grow back into 168 and be in some more big fights. I genuinely think he has world level attributes, but he lacks that world level footwork/movement and perhaps ring craft (maybe because of the lack of amateur experience); his losses have all come from boxers that have had a solid amateur pedigree – giving them superior ring craft, footwork and timing.
“Smith can use this to catapult himself into some more big clashes. Would love to see him fight for, and win, another world title.
“Eubank I would like to see him rebuild at a higher weight and be in some big domestic clashes and hopefully win a world title. He’s been through a lot of personal hardship so would love to see him achieve more in the ring and the retire in good health with money in the bank.
“And if he moves up to cruiserweight – he’s got my details!”
Matt Marsh, Former British champion
“I've been reading peoples comments and listening to boxing fans and boxers on YouTube saying how shocked they are with what happened. I’m shocked that they didn’t think that would have happened. Liam Smith is a tough cookie, he had a better amateur career so I’m shocked people didn’t think he would have won like that.
“I thought the fight was pretty even by the fourth, maybe Liam winning, but Liam saw his chance, took it and got the job done early. Fair play to him, I wasn’t shocked but always knew Liam had more to give than Eubank. People need to stop listening to the loud mouths and look at what boxers do in the ring. Eubank since being with Roy Jones Jr hasn’t really looked that good, let’s be honest. Me personally, Roy Jones Jr has ruined Eubank.
“Well done Liam!”
Tim Rickson, BBN Editor:
“I think it's quite clear Eubank is weight drained. I've never seen him hurt before, so to watch him get dropped so heavily, where his legs went from underneath him, was a huge shock. No one expected that! For a man that has taken everything George Groves had to offer, who is a big puncher, it was a shock to see him dropped so heavily. He showed how brave he is by getting back up and carrying on, but the ref was right to stop it. If it wasn't such a big headlining fight, with slightly less importance, then a lot of refs would have waved it off after seeing him tottering around on unsteady legs following the first knockdown. He was in no state to continue, so Loughlin's intervention was in no way too early, despite what Chris said afterwards about feeling he could have carried on. Also, I disagree with Jr. calling it a 'once in a lifetime shot' as if it was the best punch he's ever thrown in his career. I think he could have hit him with just as good a shot at any time in that fight.
“I was so impressed with Smith's performance and really pleased for him. He's not know as a puncher but if you speak to anyone that has sparred him, they all describe his shots as 'solid'. He is so patient and that's because he has such confidence in his ability. He thoroughly deserves a big fight next and I think him and Golovkin would make for a fun fight, and that's a contest I see as 50-50 too. He went toe to toe with Canelo, so a fight with 'GGG' would complete the set. And Smith deserves a world title shot next.
“I hope Eubank can go back to a weight he's more comfortable with, preferably at 168lbs.”
George Groves, Former world champion:
“I’m speechless. I didn’t think Liam Smith would be able to stop Chris Eubank Jr in that sort of fashion. It just goes to show that it’s impossible sometimes to make a fight prediction because there’s always going to be stuff we’re unaware of, and I’m sure there’s stuff, and I’m not taking anyway from Liam Smith, but I’m sure he wasn’t convinced that he’d be able to obliterate Eubank Jr once he landed some significant punches on him and he did. It wasn’t one that Chris walked onto, and it wasn’t a punch from the Gods. It was just a right hand over the top and put his shots together.
“A left uppercut comes through that lands heavy, and while Eubank is on his way down, he gets caught with another one on the way down. The fight was pretty much over after the first knockdown.
“Does Liam Smith punch harder than me? He might do, or Eubank Jr has come down to middleweight, and his punch resistance is gone. I don’t know what Chris’ desire is right now. He’s had a real tough couple of years personally with stuff in his family.
“I think he’s tired at the weight that had an effect on his performance tonight, but full credit to Liam Smith. He rose to the occasion.
“Let the dust settle for a bit and then make a decision. I’m not sure what’s next for Chris Eubank Jr. I’m not in his camp. I don’t know how hard it is to make weight, but he’s definitely a stronger force up at 168. He looks a little flat. The Liam Williams fight, he couldn’t get rid of him. Tonight, it was the same. It wasn’t quite the same tenacious, animalistic sort of fighter he was a few years ago back at super middleweight.
“He could do, he really could [fight Golovkin]. To be honest, I still think GGG has plenty left in the tank. I’m making him the favourite. He’s the more natural middleweight, but if they could get Golovkin over here to the UK, it would be a mega-fight. Everyone would love to see Golovkin over here. I think Golovkin is old now, but he’s still a spiteful puncher; but yeah, that could be a mega-fight to deliver for Liam Smith. He kind of deserves it after tonight. If you win at this stage of his career, you get to roll the dice and go again, so I hope he gets another big fight. If it’s not Eubank, then I hope it is another big significant fight for him.”
Steve Wood, Boxing manager & promoter
“Well my prediction was wrong but made up for Liam, thought the writing was on the wall for him after the third and the stoppage just came out of nowhere. Made adjustments with his head movement at the start of the fourth and managed to get past the jabs he had been eating, and finished him with a great flurry in the corner – Eubank was completely gone.
“When you think he took all George Groves hit him with, you would have expected him to get through this, but there was a few shots landed, he is older and making weight may have a part but age waits for no man and Liam is older so let's give him credit – not sure if want to see a rematch, only Eubank Jnr knows the true answer to whether it would be competitive.
“Liam has earned big money, but deserves a mega fight and at 154/160lb I do not think anyone would have an easy fight with him so obviously the biggest pay day is the one he should take at 34 years young.”
Arijan Goricki, IBO International title contender
“Eubank doesn't have good fundamentals, he need to stop copying Roy Jones and stop trying to be boxer, he is a fighter with great athletic abilities, that's what was bring him to this stage and what he needs to be concerned about in the future.
“I didn't think that Smith performance was nothing special, he is who he is, he saw opportunity and took it.
“Eubank was get hit by the uppercut he didn't see and punches you don't see are the ones that hurts you. Being out of the ring for so long can be big factor, he weaned himself from taking punches.
“I would like to see the rematch between them two. Eubank needs to get rid of the RJJ and get back to his old style.”
Tino Bellot, Four-time national & International amateur champion
“Liam Smith fought how I expected him too, with a high guard and good fundamentals, but I was really impressed with his combination punching, which is what ultimately caught Eubank out and finished the fight.
“As a fighter myself, I've seen how dangerous weight cutting can be and I think Eubank Jr. found out the hard way. Roy Jones done a similar thing of jumping up and down weight classes frequently and he was never the same after that. Hopefully the same won't be said about Eubank Jr.
“I think a rematch would be a good move for both of them, but I'd be intrested in seeing Liam Smith fight Conor Benn at a 157 catchweight.”
Daniel Smith, BBN Writer
“Apart from the Smith camp, no-one in boxing – not active or retired fighters, promoters, pundits, or the bookies – expected a stoppage from Liam Smith in such a savage nature.
“Presently, the consensus is that Eubank can no longer effectively make a 160lbs, for his ability to absorb and recover a shot has diminished. This is a legitimate consideration, and the most obvious one to correlate with his dismantling on Saturday night in Manchester.
“However, along with the boiled 160 physique, I believe it was Smith who irritated, agitated, and snuck under Eubank's skin. The comments made by Smith were tarnished and demonized by a lot of people involved in the sport. Although the implications of the comments were noted as homophobic, it appeared that Smith – along with earning himself a backlash of abuse – also earned the psychological victory heading into the bout. For Eubank to enter a fight trailing behind after an exchange of verbals, may have subconsciously unnerved him.
“In terms of Eubank's next move, the difficulties at 160lbs need to be legitimized or dispelled by junior. Thereafter, it will be apparent whether the public will have an interest with what he chooses to do next.
“Presently, it seems to be: Smith-Eubank rematch or a move up to super middle and see what happens there.
“Smith has the ball in his court and will be a hot prospect for any domestic opponent. If he pursues a fight with GGG then of course, it's his prerogative, and good luck to him as he deserves big fights and big pay days.”
Anish Parekh, BBN Writer
“What a shocker! Whoever bet a sizeable amount on an early Smith knockout might not have to work for a while.
“From the first round Eubank appeared slow, his jab lacked conviction, and his feet moved sluggishly as if he had bricks strapped to his ankles.
“Smith looked focused and sharp. His defence was tight, management of distance was cute, and punch selection was perfect. Apart from shipping a few uppercuts in the third, Smith was in control, and as soon as he cut off the ring, he unleashed with menacing intent.
“Smith has always had a mean streak and the fact that he looked the superior boxer was not a surprise, but what was noticeable was the strength he had on the inside, as he repeatedly pushed back his larger foe with relative ease.
“If his superiority in strength was a surprise, then the manner in which he dispatched the usually robust Eubank was shocking. So much so that upon flooring Eubank with the first knockdown, my initial instinct was to question whether he slipped. Being splattered on the canvas just didn't seem like a possibility in the eyes of most observers ahead of the contest.
“But that is exactly what makes boxing great. Smith-Eubank was another stark reminder of why all of the mental imaginings and assumptions of outcomes between fighters are redundant. In a sport where fine margins are crucial, only a fight can erase any doubt about who is the better man
“Smith's talent deserved this victory. In his two other big nights, he was competitive but ultimately beaten in gallant efforts against Canelo Alvarez and Jaime Munguia – two big, strong world champions who were on the up.
“But this was different. A chance to fight on a domestic PPV against one of the most recognisable celebrities in the country. A man whose fame far exceeded his own despite never holding a recognised version of a world title. A golden ticket to finally grab the headlines, respect, and credibility that he should have acquired a long time ago – and he snatched it with the two hands that punched holes into his opponent.
“What next for Smith and Eubank? Surely it would be to take the Haye-Bellew route in which they share many parralels with. To capitalise on the fervour created from the first fight and ride the momentum into a rematch. The rivalry between two polar opposite personalities has captured the nation in a rare way that deserves another chapter for a fully satisfying conclusion.
“There will be some that will bemoan a rematch, due to the one-sided nature of their first tussle and imagine Smith to repeat his performance. But even in such a comprehensive beating, there are questions to such an unexpected result. Was Eubank weight-drained at middleweight, particularly so soon after completing a gruelling camp to reach 157lbs for his scrapped bout against Conor Benn? Was he stuck between styles in trying to implement a more considered approach whilst tempering his natural impulse to go to war? Did he underestimate Smith? Or at 33, is he simply past his athletic best?
“Only a rematch can answer these question to erase any doubt.”
John Raspanti, Writer at maxboxing.com
“Liam was on point. He's a throwback fighter. Where Chris thinks of boxing as more of a show, Liam is the real deal. It's his job, and he takes great pride in it. He was motivated – and ready.
“It was shocking to see Eubank collapse in the corner. Liam Smith entered the fight with 19 KOs. He was moving up in weight. These factors don't normally spell knockout. Johnny Nelson said Eubank looked drained after the weigh-in. Also, there was something about Eubank before the fight. He looked like he was going through the motions. Coming down in weight could have weakened him, and his overconfidence.
“Smith versus a 40-year-old Golovkin is a good matchup. Eubank should move back to 168 pounds. He needs to figure out his style and stick with it.”
Uros Djikanovic, Boxing manager & advisor
“Simply Liam Smith was better prepared for this fight and he executed perfectly in the ring. He outboxed Eubank. I picked Eubank to win on points but apparently I was wrong. Liam was just perfect in this fight on every level and I really enjoyed his performance.
“Personally I don’t think that the weight loss was a reason Eubank lost this fight. Of course weight loss can take a toll on fighters body but I don’t want to take any credit away from Liam. He deserved to win this fight without a doubt.
“I would honestly love to see a rematch if not I would like to see Liam Smith fight GGG.”