Chris Eubank (32-2, 23 KOs) still got an opponent. Instead of Conor Benn, whom he was supposed to face at the end of 2022, Chris will box against Liam Smith (32-3-1, 19 KOs). Definitely not such a loud opponent as the previous one. But that certainly doesn’t make it any worse.
Chris starts the year with a good fight but is aiming for title fights. Including against Gennady Golovkin, whom he has been chasing for a year now.
Eubank was supposed to box against Benn. But Conor himself ruined a potential megafight
There was practically no talk about the fight between Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn in the USA. In general, for the world, this confrontation was definitely not one of the main ones of the year – in Ukraine, almost no one heard about it either. And this is not surprising, because Eubank – Benn – this is really a British confrontation that would gather a stadium there, and the rest of the world would be interested only in the result.
All because the fight is promoted by the confrontation of the fathers. Eubank Sr. and Nigel Benn fought twice. In 1990, Eubank went through an extremely difficult test, but still managed to win and knock out his opponent in the ninth round. Three years later they met again – at the Old Trafford arena in Manchester. The fans filled the football stadium, and the match ended in a draw. At the same time, Eubank – Benn is considered a real classic of British boxing, therefore the meeting of their sons intrigued Great Britain.
The fight went like this from the start. Conor Benn is naturally smaller than Chris Eubank Jr., so he had to gain weight. At the same time, against losing weight, Chris Sr. himself was the son for the potential resolution of possible conflicts. He explained this by the fact that he had already lost one son – Chris Jr.’s brother had died – and was not going to lose the last one because of games with weight.
But in the end, Benn decided everything. Conor is a bright boxer, but questions regarding doping have been arising for him for more than one year. He constantly clashes with doping organizations, refused to take WADA tests, and in the end he got caught doping anyway. And even if the subsequent checks after the A test showed that Benn is clean, who will believe him? Now he will be considered a dopingist for the rest of his life, no matter how he tries to wash and clean himself.
At the same time, it was not clear to everyone whether the fight would be canceled. Doping was found almost right before the meeting, so the organizers hesitated. But still, they decided to cancel the confrontation and decide separately what to do next with Benn.
Now Chris Eubank Jr will face Liam Smith. An oversized opponent who is experiencing the best period of his career. Liam has three defeats in his career. He first lost to Saul Alvarez back in 2016. Then Smith did not stand the style and speed offered by the Mexican. Canelo won by knockout in the ninth round. The second defeat is from Jaime Munguia. Again a Mexican, but the defeat is already a decision of the judges in 2018. And the third – in a duel against Magomed Kurbanov. Overall, Liam lost three times: twice to undefeated fighters and once to Canelo, who had only a loss to Mayweather.
Getty Images/Global Images Ukraine. Chris Eubank and Liam Smith (right)
Does this make Smith a powerful boxer? Unlikely. Not bad, strong, competitive – yes. But powerful, no. However, now is a great time for the Brit. Liam hasn’t lost in a year and has beaten three opponents since his last loss: Anthony Fowler, Jesse Vargas and Hassan Mwakinho.
This is definitely an opponent no louder than Benn. Guaranteed not one with which you can collect an entire stadium. But Eubank will have to work hard if after Smith he is seriously going to go after the titles.
Who is the favorite?
Quite a competitive confrontation, both theoretically on paper and on bookmaker quotes. You can bet on Chris Eubank Jr. with odds of 1.40. On Liam Smith they give about 2.50–2.75. Chris is the favorite, but not by much.
Eubank is a really versatile and interesting boxer. He can hit or outbox opponents. Reasonably delays those under mistakes and works in combination. But, if it doesn’t work out, it processes remotely without risk due to speed and timing.
His opponent is different. Liam likes to work from the block, but number one. Has a good jab and constant pressure of the opponent. Works for protection. It tightens, lets you miss, and even then it hits from different angles.
It’s hard to pick out someone’s punch. On the one hand, Eubank is a more dynamic boxer in his own right. On the other hand, Smith knows how to close in the corners and hit with both hands. This is confirmed by a close percentage of early victories. Liam has 52.78% and Chris has 67.65%.
A stylistically good match-up: a fast counter-puncher versus a slower press-and-work fanatic. Both the first and the second should have moments, but the faster and more dynamic Eubank has more chances. Not a historical battle against Benn, but okay too.
At the same time, it is necessary not only to defeat Smith, but to do it brightly and cheerfully. After all, the goal that Chris sets for himself is to have a baggage of fans behind him. The main goal is a fight against Gennady Golovkin. The Briton has been wanting a meeting with a Kazakh for more than a year, and someday he should get it.
Or he won’t get it – Golovkin still doesn’t remember Eubank as potential rivals. But Gennady is already over 40 years old, and at one point the time may come when he won’t have to choose. And now there is an opportunity to both defend the title and box in the UK, where a lot of people are guaranteed to gather for it.
Therefore, Chris needs to win brightly and guarantee Golovkin a big fee, for which it would be worth going and risking a title at 40 years old in a duel against a 33-year-old fast counterpart.
The fight between Chris Eubank and Liam Smith will take place on January 21 in Manchester.