In delivering a one-sided beating of Liam Smith — a legitimate title challenger himself — Chris Eubank Jr. silenced his critics and reminded the world middleweight champions of his danger.
Smith, a former super welterweight world champion, went into the rematch at the AO Arena in Manchester, England, on Saturday on the back of four successive stoppage wins, including the fourth-round win over Eubank in January. He was hoping to beat Eubank again to set up a title shot against WBO middleweight world champion Janibek Alimkhanuly, but he was completely dominated by Eubank. Eubank threw a staggering 448 more punches than Smith, according to CompuBox statistics.
Eubank was much better than his display in their first encounter. With American trainer Brian McIntyre (who also trains undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford) in his corner for the first time, Eubank dictated the fight behind his jab and looked especially dangerous with the right uppercut. He forced two knockdowns and showed enough to suggest he will give any of the world champions — Jermall Charlo, Erislandy Lara, Vincenzo Gualtieri, and Alimkhanuly — a tough fight.
However, going into the fight, Eubank was only ranked in the top ten by one of the four governing bodies (Eubank is No. 5 in the WBC’s latest rankings), so a world title shot might not be next.
And Eubank seems more interested in facing others, even though he has yet to win one of the four major world title belts.
“I’m coming for you Conor [Benn], I’m coming for you Kell [Brook] anyone who wants it,” Eubank said after the fight. “I want to fight GGG [Gennadiy Golovkin], let’s get it on.”
Eubank has been calling out Golovkin for years, and the former middleweight champion once even agreed to the fight. Golovkin is now 41, his best days behind him and has not fought since he was unanimously outpointed by Canelo Alvarez nearly a year ago. If he really wants that fight, Eubank may have to travel to Kazakhstan, Golovkin’s home country.
What would be a bigger fight is Eubank versus welterweight contender Conor Benn, if it is allowed to happen. Benn’s career is in crisis, and doubt still surrounds him regarding when he will be allowed to box in the U.K. again after he failed two drugs tests that forced a scheduled fight against Eubank last year to be cancelled in the week of the fight. If Benn gets the all-clear to box again, he will become Eubank’s No. 1 priority due to the money the fight will generate in the U.K. Benn-Eubank would be a repeat of their fathers’ rivalry in the 1990s and gain interest beyond boxing fans.
Brook, 37, the former IBF welterweight champion, was ringside for Smith-Eubank 2 but would have to come out of retirement to face Eubank. Brook has not fought since February 2022 and there are better fights for the 33-year-old Eubank to chase at this stage of his career, like a world title shot.
Smith’s biggest fight is the trilogy fight with Eubank, unless he decides it is time to hang up the gloves.
Smith, 35, from Liverpool, ESPN’s No. 4 middleweight, made two defenses as WBO junior middleweight champion from 2015 to 2016. He has faced the likes of Alvarez, Jaime Munguia, Jessie Vargas and Eubank. It has been a brilliant tail end to Smith’s career, but now could be the right time to retire.