Liverpool’s Liam Smith shocked the world taking a TKO victory one minute and nine seconds into the 4th round of a career-defining fight against Chris Eubank Jr in front of a sold-out Manchester Arena.
Former world champion Smith came up a weight class to challenge Eubank Jr, and may have taken the greatest victory of his professional career to date.
Eubank looked comfortable in the first three rounds, fluidly boxing and landing multiple shots that hurt Smith. However, Smith remained calm and composed in the fourth, coming forward and clipping Eubank with a clubbing right hook that seriously hurt him and forced Eubank to retreat to the corner of the ring.
The Liverpudlian legend then launched a rapid flurry of punches, opening Eubank up to an inch-perfect uppercut that sent him tumbling to the canvas.
Eubank bravely rose back to his feet despite being seriously compromised and was able to beat the referee’s count of 10, but a few more perfectly selected punches from Smith forced the fight to be stopped.
Both men respectfully came together in the ring after the fight, recognising each other’s talent and determination after a hard-fought contest between rivals that clashed in the build-up to the fight.
Liam Smith poses a serious threat to any fighter in the world at either 154lbs or 160lbs, and looks set to continue reigning at the top of the sport over seven years after winning his first World Championship.
Chris Eubank Jr remains one of the biggest stars in British boxing and showed tremendous heart to get back up after a brutal knockdown and try to fight on, winning over a lot of fans in a hostile, packed-out Manchester Arena.
Full Undercard Results
Richard Riakporhe def. Krzysztof Głowacki – TKO Rd 4 2:44
Richard Riakporhe proved himself to be ready to challenge for a World Championship with a consummate performance against a former World Champion in Krzystof Głowacki, forcing the referee to stop the fight at the end of the 4th round after a savage barrage of fierce right hands and left hooks.
Riakporhe badly hurt Glowacki in the second round, and looked close to scoring a knockdown, but the highly experienced Głowacki smartly managed the situation and saw out the round safely.
Głowacki remained tricky in the 3rd and 4th rounds, being evasive and finding opportunities to land counter-punches that forced Riakporhe to remain careful. Riakporhe managed this expertly and landed a perfect right hand that rocked Głowacki and made him fall back to the corner and eventually get stopped.
Riakporhe looks destined to fight for a World Cruiserweight Championship in the next 12 months, and the UK could end up the place to be at 200lbs with talent like Riakporhe, Chris Billam-Smith, and Lawrence Okolie.
Ekow Essuman def. Chris Kongo – MD (114-114, 116-113, 115,114)
Ekow Essuman retained his British and Commonwealth Welterweight Championships against Chris Kongo by majority decision in a 50/50 fight-of-the-year contender that had action from the first to the final bell. Both men gave absolutely everything in a 36-minute war where both men had justification to claim victory at the end.
Chris Kongo controlled the first third of the fight, dictating the fight’s pace and landing considerably more than Essuman. Essuman came forward and did make the fight uncomfortable for Kongo at times from the 5th round onwards, clinching with Kongo and turning the fight into a barbaric slugging match on the inside.
The middle four rounds of the fight were razor close, and both men had multiple periods of success. Essuman landed a devastating barrage of shots in the final minute of the 9th round, that badly hurt Kongo and left him reeling and doing everything in his power to stop Essuman being able to throw any shots.
Essuman used the momentum from his 9th round success to keep the pressure on for the final three rounds and keep landing. Essuman landed a vicious right hand in the final round to badly hurt Kongo, and a stoppage looked close, but Kongo held on for the final bell.
Both men gave everything in this epic battle and Kongo will feel aggrieved to walk away the loser, but everyone who saw this sublime fight will know Kongo has nothing to be ashamed of.
Joseph Parker def. Jack Massey – UD (96-93, 97-92, 97-93)
Former World Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker took a strong unanimous decision victory over a resilient and aggressive opponent in Jack Massey. Parker out-landed and out-damaged his opponent across the 10 rounds of the fight, and showed heart to hold off Massey’s relentless offense.
Parker controlled the first four rounds of the fight, pushing Massey back into the ropes and throwing powerful shots. Massey successfully took opportunities to fire back, but Parker was able to accumulate damage. The fight opened up from the 5th round onwards, with both fighters landing big shots on the other, but with Parker continuing to get the better of his spirited opponent overall, with both men giving everything in the final round to try to get the stoppage, with their ferocity matched only by their determination not to taste defeat.
Massey came on strong as the fight continued, and gave Parker a few scares, but was ultimately outclassed across 10 rounds by a top heavyweight, although the durable Cruiserweight significantly raised his stock in a close defeat.
Frazer Clarke def. Kevin Espindola – RTD Rd 4 3:00
Olympic Bronze medalist and highly touted professional Heavyweight Frazer Clarke took the fifth professional victory of his career against a highly seasoned opponent in Kevin Espindola.
Clarke forced the first stoppage loss of Espindola’s career after breaking him down with smart distance management and a strong mix of shots to the head and body, rendering Espindola unable to come out for the fifth round.
Clarke can already rightfully claim a place as one of the best Heavyweights in British boxing in only five professional fights, he can now look forward to the best in the UK’s blue riband division and demand respect in that group.
Matty Harris def. Jiri Surmaj – TKO Rd 1 1:14
6 ‘9″ powerhouse Heavyweight prospect Matty Harris delivered a brutal 1st round knockout to take the third stoppage victory in the opening three minutes of his four fight professional career. Harris bludgeoned Jiri Surmaj with shots from the first bell and forced the referee to stop the fight in 74 seconds.
This charismatic giant has devastating power in both hands and the potential to become one of the biggest Heavyweight stars in British boxing.
Scott Forrest def. Amine Boucetta – PTS 60-54
Brawny Scottish Cruiserweight Scott Forrest battered Amine Boucetta for six rounds on the way to a shutout points victory where he came close to stopping Boucetta on multiple occasions. Forrest was a standout Team GB amateur and now looks set to climb the ranks quickly as a professional, moving to 4-0 as a professional tonight and racking up three stoppages along the way.
Frankie Stringer def. Cristian Narvaez – PTS 40-36
The 21-year-old exciting prospect Frankie Stringer showed impressive boxing intelligence to control a 70 fight veteran in Cristian Narvaez, and not give Narvaez even a hint of an opportunity to win a round.
Now 4-0 as a professional, having won every single round of his career and being managed by fellow Liverpudlian Liam Smith, Stringer looks a serious talent in the British Lightweight scene.