AS nights go it was one to forget for Liam Smith and his trainer Joe McNally last Saturday night.
The pair stood opposite Chris Eubank Jr for a second time this year ready to go to work but both knowing all was not right. Eubank, eager for revenge, was this time joined by new trainer Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntrye who replaced Roy Jones Jr.
Smith stunned Eubank back in January with a fourth-round stoppage. Seeing the concrete chinned Eubank staggering like a drunken man after being caught with a barrage of shots was an image that will live long in the memory.
Having exercised his rematch clause Eubank sought redemption but many believed his chances were slim. What played out was another horror show for one side of the rivalry. This time it was Smith’s turn. The 35 year old looked a shadow of the man who blitzed Eubank eight months ago and found himself on the wrong end of a one-sided beating which was stopped by referee Victor Loughlin in round 10.
“He was literally a walking zombie in there,” McNally told Boxing News.
In the aftermath of Saturday night it was revealed that Smith lost a staggering 42lbs in weight to ensure he made the 160lbs middleweight limit. A hefty amount to drop because of an ongoing back injury which disrupted his preparations for the rematch.
“His weight ballooned right up. He hasn’t done no roadwork for this fight. We couldn’t do no core work,” McNally said.
“His weight was good until the injury. I run the numbers eight weeks out with the nutritionist. He had to be in a 15,000-calorie deficiency a week. A major calorific deficiency the whole of the camp and fight week even worse. We had check weight testing, two or three of them and he hit the goals, but he hit the goals fucked. Not hitting them goals full of beans. He hit the goals and he was shattered. And on fight night only people with two glass eyes couldn’t see that. He was fucked.”
“The first day of camp was when he done his back. It’s the discs, his lumbar three and four. It could need an operation, I don’t know,” he added.
The original date of June 17 for the rematch, announced in May, was shelved because of injury to Smith but put back only two weeks to July 1. Promoter Boxxer proceeded to use the date for original chief support Franchon Crews-Dezurn and Savannah Marshall to top the bill instead. Eventually Smith-Eubank 2 landed on September 2, but McNally knew his man would not be 100 per cent ready because of the ongoing back issue.
“Eight weeks out I’m like, ‘We need this fight the end of October, early November, it’s no good’”, he recalled.
“I should have followed my head instead of my heart.”
McNally is not just a trainer to Smith but a close friend as well and speaking to BN the Liverpudlian was clearly emotional at what happened to someone he calls a ‘family member’.
“It wasn’t Liam. There was nothing he could do. I’ve knew Liam since he was a baby. The fights I’ve worked with him, watching him perform it was a case of guiding him through the fight and not get hurt.
“It was so heart-breaking. Liam knew too. His whole demeanour. I think he was a bit embarrassed and ashamed, a look in his eyes of ‘I’ve fucked up big time here’ and after two rounds Chris knew that.”
McNally says that Smith is at home recuperating and spending quality time with his family. A swollen foot, a stitched-up eye and his pride dented can all be overcome. ‘Beefy’ has already indicated to his coach that he won’t be retiring and going out on that performance. However, the back issue may need to be addressed before deciding what the next move is.
“I don’t think he’s finished but at the same time I don’t want him to go too long in the sport. His injury is still severe. His sciatica, he’s still not getting no sleep. He needs to contemplate his next move because if that hinders his preparation, where the fight is won and lost, he wants to think twice about what he’s going to do in the sport.”