Repeat or revenge? Redemption or replication? Who will reign supreme as Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr battle it out in a highly-anticipated middleweight rematch on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena.
Who will get their hand raised second time around? (Photo: Sky Sports)
Boxing fans can be forgiven for thinking this rematch was never going to happen. Despite Eubank activating the rematch clause within weeks of the first fight, there were plenty of other rumours flying about the mill that had Smith vs Eubank 2 well and truly up in the air. A certain Conor Benn was being thrown in the hat for Eubank, with Liam Smith potentially fighting for a world title at middleweight too.
However, all of that is behind us as we embark on what is set to be another barnstorming event on Saturday night between the divisive Chris Eubank Jr, and the former world super-welterweight champion, Liam Smith.
There are so many narratives going into this rematch between ‘Beefy’ and ‘NextGen’. Firstly the most glaringly obvious narrative that both boxing fans and media are spinning now - has Eubank Jr’s chin gone?
The Brighton man was renowned for having a granite chin, being able to take huge shots in order to dish out punishment of his own. However, is that still the case? Liam Smith isn’t regarded as a huge puncher, but he had Eubank Jr on unsteady legs, dancing like he’d had several alcoholic beverages on a night out. Eubank had taken some huge shots before of super-middleweight such as George Groves and James Degale, who couldn’t put a dent in him. But the career 154-pounder ‘Beefy’ was able to stop him conclusively. This is definitely a worrying sign for ‘NextGen’ fans.
Liam Smith stopped Chris Eubank Jr in Round 4 last time (Photo: SecondsOut)
The next narrative is of course the weight. The whole Conor Benn saga clearly did Eubank no favours, cutting extreme amounts of weight and then signing to fight Liam Smith less than two months later. Are Eubank’s days at middleweight over, and is this why he was stopped by Smith last time out? Who knows!
Everyone knows that Liam Smith is an incredibly talented fighter. Just look at his three brothers. Smith was of course world champion down at light-middle before, and could well become a two-weight world champion next year if he is to dispatch of Eubank again and pick up a world title at 160-pounds. Everyone knew going into the first fight that Smith was the superior boxer of the two, but that Eubank was the naturally bigger man, better fighter on the inside and would end up getting to his smaller counterpart. That obviously wasn’t the case.
Ahead of Saturday’s rematch, Eubank Jr has teamed up with legendary trainer Buddy McGirt. Yes, you are right. He is of course the long-term trainer of the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford. Whether or not ‘Bo-Mac’ can implement his style and way of fighting into the Eubank psyche in less than six weeks remains to be seen. Eubank is supposedly still on good terms with Roy Jones Jr, his coach for his recent fights, but has opted to work with McGirt for the rematch.
When it comes to fight night, boxing fans are in for a truly compelling night of action. When it’s time for the main event and both men make their ring walks, excitement will have climaxed as we sit in eager anticipation of what may unfold in the ring in the next 36 minutes, if indeed we need that long.
Repeat or Revenge? (Photo: BBC Sport)
Judging by the first fight, Smith is rightfully the favourite going into this one and is being tipped to once again beat ‘NextGen’. The general consensus is that this fight will go longer, and could well go the full 12 rounds. However, Eubank will have other ideas. He will want to get one back on ‘Beefy’, levelling the scores with a knockout of his own, setting up a mouth-watering trilogy in the process.
If Eubank is to win, it is imperative that he rectifies the basic errors he was making in the first fight. He must move his head, be more elusive, counterpunch, go to the body, use his superior height, reach and size and impose himself on Smith. On the other hand, the scouser will be thinking of doing the exact same again. Let his opponent make the mistakes before opening him up and pouncing on him with astute timing and magnificent precision.
Time will tell which narrative plays out and what happens when the first bell sounds late on Saturday night from the Manchester Arena. One thing is for sure, we are in for a quite remarkable night of boxing. This is it for Chris Eubank Jr. Another loss and retirement could be calling. If that isn’t an incentive to win, nothing is.
Liam Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs)
Chris Eubank Jr - WIN - TKO Round 4
Hassan Mwakinyo - WIN - TKO Round 4
Jessie Vargas - WIN - TKO Round 10
Anthony Fowler - WIN - TKO Round 8
Chirs Eubank Jr (32-3, 23 KOs)
Liam Smith - LOSS - TKO Round 4
Liam Williams - WIN - UD (116-108, 116-109, 117-109)
Wanik Awdijan - WIN - RTD Round 5
Marcus Morrison - WIN - UD (98-92 x3)
Date: September 2nd 2023
Time: Approx. 10.30PM Ring Walk (BST)
Venue: Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, UK
Promoter: Boxxer/Ben Shalom (live on Sky Sports Box Office)
Official Fight Night Poster (Photo: Boxxer)
Elsewhere on the undercard in Manchester, hot prospect Adam Azim faces Aram Faniian in a lightweight contest, with Mark Heffron and Jack Cullen battling it out for the British Super-Middleweight Title on the undercard too. Frazer Clarke takes on Dave Allen in a heavyweight contest over 10 rounds, with Florian Marku and Dylan Moran also clashing in a highly anticipated welterweight contest. Mikaela Mayer also features on the bill in a super-lightweight contest against Silvia Bortot over 10 rounds. Lauren Price and Frankie Stringer are also in action on the Smith vs Eubank 2 undercard.