In the fourth round of their middleweight fight on Saturday night in Manchester. Liam Smith stopped Chris Eubank Jr. with brutal and clinical authority. His decisive victory ended the simmering animosity between the two men after an originally competitive and thrilling fight, and it allowed Smith to compete in much more illustrious contests.
While there was no championship at play in this contest between two ardent domestic rivals. Smith knew that a fourth loss in his 37th fight would have been catastrophic for his future aspirations. Smith’s pounding punches left Eubank Jr., who is one year younger at 32, bewildered and stunned.
Early in the surprise decisive round, Eubank Jr. was pinned in his corner when a flurry of blows culminated in a left hook, and a cuffing right that drove him to the mat. He was on his haunches, his right glove anxiously attempting to secure a hold on the ropes so he could pull himself to his feet.
As soon as he was able to stand, Eubank Jr. stumbled towards the referee, Victor Laughlin. While plainly in pain and bewildered. He extended his hands inquisitively while Laughlin counted. It was as if he were questioning the referee why he continued to yell “Six… seven… eight.”
Chris Eubank Jr is stunned by Liam Smith’s fourth-round stoppage
However, this count was insufficient for Eubank Jr.’s head to clear. Smith pounced on him, and even though none of the blows were particularly serious, Eubank Jr. was left reeling. He fell again in a tangled heap, and Laughlin acted appropriately to save him. The realization of his defeat prompted Eubank to engage in a fruitless act of rebellion. As if he wanted to continue fighting, he shoved the referee and stumbled toward Smith. Smith spun around to protect himself, but Eubank Jr.’s cornermen rushed into the ring to save him from himself.
As Eubank was carried back to the corner, a horrifying bulge began to grow plainly beneath his right eye. A fighter who, although having lost two of his previous 34 fights, had never appeared in danger of being dropped was devastated by the outcome.
Ten days earlier, he bragged to me about his “iron jaw” that he “got from my grandfather.” But even Eubank Sr. was severely injured late in his career, so his son should carefully evaluate his future.
Smith has typically competed at super-welterweight, a division below Eubank Jr.’s legitimate middleweight class. In this duel between two men at a crossroads, however, he achieved a decisive victory.
The remarkable Smith, whose grey hair belied the vigor and power of his punches, was tested in the third round by a sequence of jarring uppercuts from Eubank Jr. After Smith’s early burst of aggression captured the eye, it appeared that Eubank Jr. who had boxed calmly behind his quick jab for the first two rounds, was regaining control.
Concerned about the brain damage
There was been a great deal of tension between the fighters in the buildup. And Smith resorted to homophobia at Thursday’s weigh-in. Eubank Jr responded with a class at the next day’s weigh-in, where he wore a rainbow wristband and demonstrated why he had become a little more popular after years of being viewed as a cold and arrogant boxer whose financial success was directly tied to his father’s fame as a former world champion.
But this shattering setback, together with his earlier losses to very talented boxers Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves, should put an end to any residual hopes that he may emulate his father and become a world champion.
Recent conversations with Eubank Jr. revealed that he is concerned about the brain damage that boxing might inflict. Therefore it is hoped that he will agree to spend the rest of his life on the safe side of the ropes.
Eubank Sr. withdrew from boxing at age 32, and his son, who is 33 years old, would do well to follow in his footsteps. However, it seems likely that Eubank Jr. will continue to compete. As he is one of the greatest names in British boxing.