Smith vs Eubank II: Repeat or Revenge?
On January 21st in Manchester Arena, Liam Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs) and Chris Eubank Jr (32-3, 23 KOs) met in a highly anticipated all-British middleweight showdown. Eubank was the slight favorite, but many people thought Smith was more than a “live dog” and that was proven true. One thing that no one could have predicted, however, was the outcome of the fight. Eubank has always been known for his chin and durability, so it was shocking to see Smith not only hurt and drop him in the fourth round, but also witness him finish off Eubank and score the TKO victory just seconds after he rose back to his feet.
That brings us to the rematch, which was originally set for June 17th, but was rescheduled due to Smith suffering a back injury in camp. The fight was then a go for July 1st, but Smith notified Sky Sports in May that he would need more time to completely recover so the date was pushed back to September. When it was announced that Smith would need time to recover and come back at 100%, there were discussions about remaking a fight between Eubank and Conor Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) but nothing was ever finalized.
Smith is the favorite this time around (-180 on FanDuel), but the line is much closer than many would have expected considering the way the first fight ended. A lot of people aren’t giving Eubank a shot to get revenge, but I wouldn’t be so sure that we see the same result tomorrow afternoon. Eubank has joined forces with Brian “Bo-Mac” McIntyre fresh off of Terence Crawford’s historic performance over Errol Spence Jr in July. Will that make a difference? We won’t know until the two are in the ring together once again. Smith has been much more consistent throughout his career, which is why people that I respect picked him to upset Eubank back in January. Eubank is a lot more up and down, but his physical gifts cannot be denied, and if he is in prime form, then he can have a great performance and make everyone forget all about what happened in January.
This matchup is one that we tend to see in boxing from time to time. The ultra-talented athlete who has struggled to put it all together against the overachiever who has gotten everything and more out of their skill set. The more “slept-on” and consistent fighter tends to come out on top in these matchups, and Liam Smith is hoping to prove that notion true once again. Many around the UK boxing scene believe that Eubank is much healthier for this fight than he was the first one, due to Eubank draining himself down to 157lbs for the Conor Benn fight that never happened due to Benn testing positive for PEDs. Eubank looked stronger in this weigh-in, and we’ll see if that helps out his punch resistance.
All in all, this fight comes down to discipline. Eubank has the boxing ability and attributes to outbox Smith, as he showed early in the first fight, but cannot get carried away and must stick to his game plan if he wants to be victorious. Liam Smith and his team have been adamant that they work much harder behind the scenes. He has less God-given ability than Eubank, but his overall discipline and commitment to the sport have developed him into a world-class fighter. Was the first win over Eubank a flash in the pan? Is Liam Smith truly the better of the two? Tune in tomorrow afternoon (US time) on ESPN+ to find out.