Liam Smith settled his differences with Chris Eubank Jr decisively by stopping his English middleweight contender in four rounds on Saturday.
Smith knocked Eubank down twice, shattering his hopes of facing 40-year veteran Gennady Golovkin, the WBA and IBF world champion. Eubank entered the fight as Sportzshala’s No. 5 middleweight, but this crushing loss casts doubt on whether he can win a world title like his father, Chris, middleweight and super middleweight champion in the 1990s.
There were no belts on the line on Saturday, but Smith will have a lot of fun beating Eubank after a terrible preparation for the fight. At Thursday’s press conference, Smith taunted Eubank for his sexuality, with Eubank making remarks about Smith’s private life and his hometown of Liverpool. Both fighters have apologized for their remarks and there is every chance there will be a sequel if Eubank can reach the middleweight limit.
The 34-year-old Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs) from Liverpool has had a dizzying career. He made two defenses as WBO Welterweight Champion in 2015-16 and was also knocked out by Canelo Alvarez in 2016. After defeating Eubank, he can look forward to another fight at the elite level.
But Eubank needs to think about his next move after losing to Smith, who was a welterweight last year.
Eubank (33-3, 23 KOs), 33, from Brighton, who had four-time world champion Roy Jones Jr as his trainer, hasn’t fought in almost a year since his fight with Conor Benn was canceled due to his positive opponent’s trials for a banned substance at last notice last year. But, despite being fired from the ring, Eubank was still the favorite in this meeting.
After stopping Jesse Vargas in April, Smith’s recent form meant he could cause problems for Eubank and he started well ahead.
Eubank’s jab faltered and failed to gain ground in the first two rounds, but was better in the third.
The Brighton boxer started to land with his jab before bringing in a right uppercut, and in the third round alone he landed at least half a dozen uppercuts.
But Eubank’s improvement was short-lived, as he was stunned by an ambush early in the fourth round.
Smith pressured Eubank in the corner before he landed a powerful left uppercut to take the opponent down and leave him on the canvas.
Eubank quickly got to his feet, but after the count he was still staggering. Smith showed no mercy, getting a big right to send him to the ground again, and referee Victor Loughlin stopped the fight at 1 minute 9 seconds into the fourth round.
Eubank’s senses were so disturbed that he attempted to continue the fight after being waved away by the referee and his right eye was badly swollen after being shot.
“I’ve been telling you all week, don’t be surprised if I stop him,” Smith said. “I don’t know if it was a cluster of blows or one blow. If Chris wants a rematch, I will.”
Eubank said, “I felt like I could have continued, but big respect to Liam.”
On the undercard, New Zealander Joseph Parker, the former WBO heavyweight champion of the world, returned to victory with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Jack Massey.
After Joe Joyce knocked him out in the 11th round in September, Parker (32-3, 21 KOs) had to settle for scores of 97-93, 97-92 and 96-93 rather than a knockout.
English heavyweight contender Richard Riakpore stopped former WBO world champion Krzysztof Głowacki in four rounds to prepare for a big fight in 2023.
33-year-old Riakporhe (16-0, 12 KOs) is ranked No. 2 in the IBF and No. 5 in the WBC world rankings and looks ready to fight for a world title in 2023 after this devastating victory for the former world champion.
A fight with London contender Lawrence Okoli (18-0, 14 KOs), WBO champion and Sportzshala No. 2 at 200 pounds, seems like a likely scenario. Both fighters now have the same promoter, BOXXER and TV presenter in the UK. Near (18-0, 14 KOs), 30 years old, defends his belt against David Light on March 11.
“Next stop, all champions,” Riakporhe said. “[Jai] obedia, [Ilunga] Macaboo, Neighborhood, [Arsen] Gulamiryan, I’m coming for you.”
Głowacki, 36 (32-4, 20 KOs), stopped in six rounds by Okolier in March 2021, was hit with a short right hand in the second round but recovered quickly.
But Riakporhe continued to threaten with a right hand and landed a body punch in the fourth round, followed by a furious attack of hooks. When Glowacki was cornered and did not fire back, referee Howard Foster made a sensible stop.