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Watson’s Winners & Losers for This Week in Boxing: Claressa Shields, Chris Eubank Jr, more

Who had a winning week, and who were the losers in boxing over the last seven days?

Claressa Shields won in the ring, but was she a Winner for the week?
Claressa Shields won in the ring, but was she a Winner for the week?
Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images

WINNERS

Chris Eubank’s Ego

After dropping Liam Williams three times in the opening four rounds of their British grudge match – working off a tight and controlled jab – Chris Eubank Jr let his ego grab him by the balls, peacocking and gesturing himself to a unanimous points decision.

Eubank is still a bit of a myth and mystery at 32 years old and 34 fights into an 11-year pro career.

The Brighton fighter claims to have more control and dedication under the wings of coach Roy Jones Jr but after dominating the opening 12 minutes, “Next Gen” reverted to type and started goading Williams in front of a hostile crowd, throwing single pot-shots in an attempt to finish the fight in highlight-reel fashion.

I’m a fan of Eubank’s theory – adopted from his father – that playing the villain or heel gets eyeballs on your fights, but he’s reaching a point in his career where substance will start receiving the bigger cheques.

Eubank had a chance to end that fight with a punctuation mark on Saturday night with a clinical display, but instead decided to play with his prey, frustrating the outcome.

There was talk of a push towards world title honours before Saturday night’s fight, but if Eubank wants to continue with this persona, then a rematch with his nemesis Billy Joe Saunders is probably the route he’ll take.

Jesse Rodriguez

Wham, Bam, thank you ma’am.

As last-minute replacements go, Jesse Rodriguez is certainly up there with the best – unless your name is Carlos Cuadras.

Jesse Rodriguez enjoyed a huge coming out party on Saturday night becoming the youngest current world champion after a display of maturity and skill – not forgetting a jump up to 115 lbs and exceeding the eighth round for the first time in his green career.

Robert Garcia has a hell of a fighter on his hands. The 22-year-old looks accomplished as an inside or outside fighter, has a tough chin and works terrifically off the angle – underlined by a b-e-a-utiful uppercut knockdown in round three.

Boy, 115 is where it’s at.

BOXXER

After Matchroom Boxing skedaddled off to DAZN at the end of 2021, Sky Sports were left with a boxing-sized hole in their scheduling.

BOXXER stepped up, under the fresh-faced promotor Ben Shalom, and the content has got off to a positive start in 2022.

You could argue that the pundits, commentary and interiors could do with a lick of paint, but the schedule to start the new year looks as strong as could be expected with a trio of domestic dust-ups.

Eubank-Williams will be followed by Khan-Brook and Taylor-Catterall in February, before Savannah Marshall headlines in Newcastle early-March – more than justifying Sky Sports’ decision to stick with the fight game.

LOSERS

Fake Beef

I loved WWF – sorry pandas, WWE – in the 1990s. I probably even enjoyed the trash-talking and in-ring monologues rather than the wrestling at times.

But I can’t say the same for Savannah Marshall and Claressa Shields’ attempts on Saturday night following Shields’ UD over Ema Kozin in Cardiff.

After a respectful fist-bump, the pair went at each other with verbals such as “wind your neck in” and “I’m chasing you” all while the Sky Sports cameras and presenters probed and egged-on the pair of unbeaten middleweights.

Don’t get me wrong – we’ve seen this hundreds of times over and over again in the sport, but this encounter just felt a little bit too obvious and staged to me.

Fair play to them. If/when these two meet it’s sure to be a hell of a fight and they are right to start selling it as early as possible, but next time let’s make it a little bit more organic.

Liam Williams

Things were looking good for Liam Williams after running 7-0 following back-to-back defeats to Liam Smith.

The Welshman had become British middleweight champion and threw his hat into the ring for the big prizes at 160lbs.

But consecutive convincing losses to Demetrius Andrade and Chris Eubank Jr. have left the 29-year-old in no man’s land for the time being as he looks to rebound after an active few years.

Williams is as tough as nails but could be criticised for a one-dimensional come-forward style. He’s got nothing to be ashamed of, but perhaps on Saturday night the penny dropped that he’s found his ceiling in the sport.

Filip Hrgovic

Filip Hrgovic just can’t get himself a fight.

The Croatian is becoming one of the most avoided fighters in the sport after working his way down the IBF rankings to numbers 12 and 13, with the likes of Murat Gassiev, Andy Ruiz Jr., Luis Ortiz and Joseph Parker declining an eliminator with the No. 3 ranked fighter.

Other possible opponents are tied up – eg. Tony Yoka with Martin Bakole and Anthony Joshua with Oleksandr Usyk – but it won’t be long until we are forced to ask “who?!” to his next opponent if he is forced to tumble even further down the list.

“El Animal” is still only 29, but at 14-0 the Olympic bronze medalist from 2016 needs a breakout fight.

Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles