Liam Smith pulled a stunner today, stopping Chris Eubank Jr in the fourth round of their middleweight main event from Manchester.
Smith winning is not the biggest shock — he wasn’t a huge underdog or anything — but nobody outside of the Smith family really saw him stopping Eubank, certainly not early in the fight, given that Eubank is traditionally a fast starter and Smith traditionally gets off to a slow beginning in many fights.
But though Eubank (32-3, 23 KO) was looking pretty good in the opening three rounds, Smith simply caught him with a rush early in round four, landing hard blows and putting Eubank on the canvas in the corner. Eubank did get up, but his legs and senses were clearly gone, and Smith pounced once more, forcing referee Victor Loughlin to jump in and stop the bout at 1:09 of round four.
Smith (33-3-1, 20 KO) now sits in a pretty good spot at both 154 lbs, his natural division, and 160, where he had this fight with Eubank. He could have big fight options at either weight, and for the 34-year-old “Beefy,” this is simply a massive win, and a pretty huge setback for the 33-year-old Eubank, who once again has failed to deliver a win in a higher-end matchup.
It also should be noted that not only were Eubank’s legs and equilibrium gone, but after the fight was concluded, his face swelled horribly, looking like either a fractured orbital or cheekbone.
“I don’t know if it was one shot or an accumulation, but I told you all week, Chris has got a great chin, I’ve got a great chin, but many fighters with great chins have been knocked out. I told you, don’t be surprised,” Smith said.
“He’s got very long arms and he’s very good at jabbing and pulling away. Chris is fast, and I’m kind of a slow starter, but slow starter or not — pffft. ... I said if I dropped someone, they’re not seeing the final bell. I knew I could not let him off the hook. His fitness and condition would let him recover quick.”
“Everything about tonight puts this right at the top. To do what nobody’s done. Bigger men — George Groves is massive at 168, he couldn’t do that,” he said. “But I said to you all week, don’t think he can’t be hurt because he’s got a good chin. But if someone hits you on the right spot, you’re going, that’s a fact.”
Asked about the fight’s rematch clause, Liam said, “If Chris wants the rematch, but all means, but the rematch is on my terms. My team will do 157 or 158 if he wants.”
“Big congratulations to him. I felt like I could have gone on, but he caught me with a great shot,” Eubank said. “The build-up was the build-up, it got a bit ugly at the end. I regretted that. I respect you, I respect your family, I always have. If the fans want a rematch, we can do that. Big respect, man. I appreciate it.”
Smith also expressed regret about the build-up. “It was all tongue-in-cheek with Chris, there was nothing homophobic meant on my behalf.”
Asked if he might chase a fight with Gennadiy Golovkin, Smith replied, “I’ll see. It depends on what they’re going to pay me, but we’ll see what’s next. I agreed to the rematch clause before, but if not, we move on. I’m in a very good position now at 160 and 154. We’ve got a big decision to make.”