Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr are set to run it back on Saturday in Manchester, England, seven months after Smith upset Eubank with a fourth round TKO that came with some controversy.
It’s all been talked about plenty enough by now, and more or less, the fighters seem to accept that what happened happened, and now on Saturday they reopen the case in the ring.
So who wins?
Scott Christ (74-29)
This is the trainer that’s going to make Chris Eubank Jr, 33, an elite fighter. And in just two weeks!
Liam Smith is a better fighter than Eubank. He’s smarter, craftier, and while Eubank has the physical attributes on his side, Smith has the superior skills. I can’t really hear these arguments that Eubank is taking some hit fighting at 160 instead of 168; he hasn’t fought at 168 since Feb. 2019. Only six of his fights have been at 168. And he didn’t look like something wildly different at 168 than he does at 160.
Eubank is the fighter he is, and so is the 35-year-old Smith. They are not going to be something you don’t expect. If Eubank can land big power shots and use his explosiveness, sure, he can win. And I expect him to rally late and empty the tank. But he won’t quite get there. He’ll think he deserved the win, but Smith gets the nod again, this time over the distance. Smith UD-12
Wil Esco (82-21)
This is an interesting rematch that I’ve really gone back and forth on. On the one hand, I do think Eubank has the tools to outpoint someone like Liam Smith, but on the other hand I’m not exactly sure he has the discipline to fight smart all the way through. I also don’t think Eubank’s legs and defense are good enough to keep this fight on the outside for the duration, which would better suit him.
Despite the banter between the two, I’ve been trying to read between the lines. Eubank has teased he might rumble more with Smith this time around, but he’s also said he doesn’t really feel he needs to change his approach because it was working up until he got caught. Out of everything I’ve heard from Eubank, the one thing that stood out to me is that he mentioned he can’t be as careless as he was before.
And because I think Eubank is sort of set in the style he’s displayed of late, I think he comes in with the same sort of game plan and deliberately plays it more cautiously. I see him piling up points in the early going, and then having to really fight by the mid-point which will provide Smith with the opportunities he’s looking for. I suspect Eubank will have to survive some scary moments and bite down, but I just have a hunch he’ll make it to the finish line this time to squeak out a points win. Eubank MD-12
John Hansen (73-30)
Seven months ago, I was the only guy here who picked Liam Smith to win. This time, I can’t get past the unspecified “old injury” that moved this fight from June to July and now to this September date. We’ll have to see if I’m just reading too much into it, and Smith was already dealing with whatever it is when he won the initial fight.
Even if all is fine and dandy, Chris Eubank still has all the physical advantages that made him the nearly universal staff pick in January. He’s also getting his first rematch against an opponent that’s beaten him, and I’m curious to see how that influences his strategy on Saturday. Eubank has repeatedly demonstrated that no one can really tell him anything, but maybe he’ll have convinced himself of some things that turn the rematch in his favor.
Things can’t go much better for Liam Smith than the way they went back in January. They can hardly go worse for Eubank, but he’s the one with the size and underutilized talent to redefine the fight to his benefit. Even if Smith is at full strength, which I’m not sure is the case, everything that made Eubank the favorite last time still applies. I think the shock of that loss may have shaken him up enough to make changes, and that likely swings the outcome. Eubank UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (79-24)
My fundamental assumptions going into the first fight were that:
- Liam Smith wouldn’t be able to consistently get inside on Eubank thanks to the latter’s size, speed, and engine.
- On the rare occasions he did get inside, he wouldn’t be able to hurt Eubank.
Those felt justifiable, especially the latter. Hell, Eubank charged after George Groves like “Saint” was his father’s approval, so I couldn’t imagine a 154 lb attrition specialist putting a dent in him.
Both proved incorrect. Smith didn’t dominate the first few rounds, but he did keep Eubank on the back foot and land some solid blows. Smith keeping pace when both were still fresh, combined with Eubank’s recent tendency to take his foot off the gas, suggest things would have gone poorly for Eubank even if he’d stayed on his feet.
While I do think Eubank has the tools to adjust and win, switching trainers less than a month from fight night makes me question whether he can formulate and execute a new strategy. I like Smith’s more focused approach to once again overcome Eubank’s physical superiority, but via accumulation rather than explosive mauling this time. Smith TKO-10