Chris Eubank Jr (33-3, 24 KOs) used a punch & grab style to wear down former WBO 154-lb champion Liam Smith (33-4-1, 20 KOs) and then came on strong to stop him in the tenth round in their middleweight rematch at the AO Arena in Manchester.
Eubank Jr. knocked the 35-year-old Smith down in the tenth and then stopped him moments later with a blizzard of unanswered punches. The fight was stopped at 1:45 of round ten.
Earlier, Eubank Jr. knocked Smith down with an uppercut in the fourth and had him in distress in round five after flurrying on him when he was trapped against the ropes.
A jubilant Eubank Jr. looked into the crowd towards retired Kell Brook and made it clear that he would like to fight him next. Eubank Jr. also called out 41-year-old Gennadiy Golovkin, who arguably is retired as well.
Chris didn’t call out any of the middleweight champions, which makes sense. They’re not big names, and most would be a lot more trouble than 35-year-old Liam Smith was tonight.
Conor Benn is the likely option for Eubank Jr’s next fight. Benn is popular in the UK due to his famous dad, Nigel Benn, and it’s a fight that would sell in England, but obviously not elsewhere.
“I thought it started slow & dull. I thought Chris was a little bit tentative in the beginning. He was sort of doing the John Ruiz jab & grab routine,” said Paulie Malignaggi to Fight Hub TV when asked about his thoughts on Chris Eubank Jr’s win over Liam Smith tonight.
“I don’t think Liam ever took advantage of Chris’ lack of confidence that Chris was showing on because Chris was jabbing & grabbing and winning the rounds early on. I thought that Liam could have taken more advantage of it.
“It didn’t seem like Chris wanted to be in punching range for too long because he was tentative. But as he started landing more shots, getting more confident, and he got the knockdown [in round four] with the uppercut.
“From there, the confidence kind of grew, and he started getting in the distance where he could jab, set up shots, and from there, he started to pick up momentum from there.
“I expected an Eubank late rounds knockout. It was a lucky guess. It was one of those fights where you couldn’t tell who was going to win going in.
“I don’t know. Can he make the weight? Chris looked grouchy all week,” said Paulie when asked about Eubank Jr. possibly fighting Conor Benn next.
“I don’t know what weight they’d make that fight with Conor at because, really, I look at Chris, and he’s a pretty big guy. I’m sure they’ll figure it out. If there’s anyone there for the taking, it might be Golovkin.
“You never know because he’s a little bit older, but he’s still hanging around. Anything is possible. Both Conor Benn and Chris bring a lot of money to the table. There’s both options for them to fight or go in aa different direction.”