Was Liam Smith’s ankle injury reason for defeat to Eubank Jr?

By Michael Collins - 09/03/2023 - Comments

Liam Smith didn’t look like his old self, fighting with a wobbly left ankle in losing to Chris Eubank Jr. by a 10th round knockout in their rematch in front of a large crowd at the AO Arena in Manchester.

Eubank (33-3, 24 KOs) knocked down the normally sturdy-chinned Smith (33-4-1, 20 KOs) twice in the contest, putting him down in the fourth and tenth.

The referee Kevin Parker felt the need to stop the fight in the tenth round when Eubank Jr. was firing rapid-fire punches at the beaten-up-looking Smith.

Should there be a trilogy?

The fight was stopped at 1:45 of the tenth. Smith didn’t protest the stoppage, even though he could have because most of the punches that Eubank Jr. threw in the final sequence missed.

Boxing fans on social media were talking nonstop about Smith’s injured ankle, and some believe that it played a significant factor in the outcome. If so, a trilogy fight makes sense.

Chris is a prizefighter, not a world champion or a fighter who is chasing a title shot. Eubank Jr. has been a career-long prizefighter who has seemed to show much motivation to fight for a world title or to win a belt.

He’s been satisfied fighting for money against domestic-level opposition, which is likely why he doesn’t have more defeats on his resume.

Eubank Jr. and his promoter will likely resist the idea of a third fight with Smith because it gets in the way of the lucrative fights that they’re likely to pursue against these fighters:

  • Gennadiy Golovkin
  • Conor Benn
  • Kell Brook

“What a performance from Chris Eubank Jr. Pure world class tonight. He totally reversed. He had all the pressure on him,” said Gareth A. Davies to Boxing King Media, reacting to Chris Eubank Jr’s win over Liam Smith in Manchester.

“He looked physically brilliant tonight. He didn’t go to sleep as he sometimes does in the middle rounds. He kept his focus, and it was utter dominance.

“I’m fascinated to know if Liam Smith suffered an injury early on. He didn’t seem steady on his feet. I know he was put down in the fifth, and he genuflected and lost his gumshield. Should the referee have given him so long? Kevin Parker is not very experienced, a novice referee.

“A brilliant performance from Chris Eubank Jr. I think that’s the best I’ve ever seen him. I think it’s great having him in your corner.

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“Look at what he’s done with Terence Crawford or look at what Terence Crawford and he have done together,” said Garreth about Eubank Jr’s trainer Brian ‘BoMac’ McIntyre.

“There was this sense that he really wanted to listen to BoMac, and Roy Jones Jr. was this legend that he wanted to emulate, wanted to ape, wanted to copy.

“Yeah, I think they’ll stay together. It’s a great combination, and if Chris Eubank Jr. goes over to that gym and doesn’t stay in Vegas and starts rubbing shoulders with Terence Crawford and Shakur Stevenson, he can get even better.

“He dominated. You were waiting for Liam Smith to come into the fight. He never did. He never gave him the opportunity. In fact, so brave. I’m surprised his corner allowed him [Liam Smith] to go on so long.

“I saw the towel around the eighth when he was taking a lot of heavy shots. Liam Smith, he is so tough, so brave, and so tenacious. Still throwing back after taking a lot of punishment in that fight.

“What an atmosphere tonight. This is a great arena when there are 20,000 people, and it’s a domestic dust-up. I don’t think it does at this moment,” said Gareth when asked if the Smith vs. Eubank Jr. rivalry warrants a trilogy match.

“You want to hear maybe what Liam Smitth’s reasons for not looking himself tonight, and looking every bit of his 35 years, but he was dominated by Chris Eubank Jr. Maybe it was too dominant to have a trilogy.

“It’s weird because Chris got emphatically stopped in that first fight. He’s just returned the favor and topped him in ten rounds, but the beating was much longer. If he’d stopped Liam in that fifth round, you’d argue that maybe there was a balance.

“It depends on what Liam has left and what he wants to do. He took a lot of punishment in that fight. But he might turn around and say, ‘I’m actually fine. I just hurt my ankles, which I seemed to see him remonstrating about afterwards.

“Terrific atmosphere. Chris Eubank has never faced that kind of adversity before. Liam Smith’s comeback from Jaime Munguia and Canelo. It’s so amazing to be involved in these nights,” said Gareth.