CHRIS EUBANK JR believes he dominated the first three rounds of his first fight against Liam Smith before the Liverpudlian stopped him in the fourth.
On September 2 both men return to the venue of their first encounter to fight one another at the AO Arena in Manchester once again. A rematch may not have happened, however, if a rematch clause had not been put in place.
Seven months ago, the scene was set after a controversial build-up between the two contrasting characters. A packed house created a wonderful atmosphere inside the venue with fans expecting a thrilling battle between the two British middleweights.
Speaking to Boxing News this week Eubank Jr shared his own opinion of what happened on January 21 when he was dropped for the first time in his career and beaten for a third time overall.
“I switched off. I got too complacent in that fourth round, and I got caught and I paid the price but before that I was dominant,” he said.
The 33-year-old was later asked if the defeat created any doubts of uncertainty in his mind going into next month’s rematch.
“No. If I got battered for three rounds and then knocked out in the fourth then yes, I would have to re-evaluate myself as a fighter. But when you’re dominant for three rounds and you get caught you understand it’s part of the game.”
In this article BN analyses those three rounds to assess whether or not Eubank was in fact “dominant” as he claims.
Round 1: In the first minute Eubank fires a number of jabs. Some landed, some did not.
At 1.36 of Smith countered Eubank’s jab and landed an overhand right which was the best punch of the round at that stage. A few seconds later he followed it up with a respectable jab to the body. Those were the highlights of the second minute.
“There’s not an awful lot in at the minute,” George Groves commented from his position ringside as Sky Sports analyst.
Eubank steps things up in the last 60 seconds. He throws a big right hand that glances the top of Smith’s head. Before that Eubank attempted a fight-changing wild uppercut which sailed into the air. Smith retaliates but swings and misses which leads to a clinch. Another right over the top connects for Smith. The final seconds sees Smith biding his time and Eubank popping out the jab.
Verdict: Smith landed the better shots. Eubank’s jab was prominent throughout. An even round.
Round 2: Smith jabs to the body straight after the bell then Eubank throws a few of his own and catches Smith with an uppercut from mid-range. Eubank lands a couple of more jabs followed by a quick right hand.
“He’s started the second-round sharper. Put a bit more meat on the jab and varied that right hand,” Groves said.
Smith goes head hunting but to no avail. The second minute starts with some air shots from Eubank before Smith turns over another connecting right hand. It’s a shot that Eubank can’t get out the way of. Smith continues to apply pressure looking to corner Eubank who gets out by throwing a right. He connects with a solid right of his own at 0.30 but the two-punch combination shortly after doesn’t land but a left hook does. Smith lands a left hook to the body at 0.19. A few more jabs from Eubank and Smith with an unsuccessful overhand right ends the second.
Verdict: A solid opening minute from Eubank but Smith found a way back into it by backing his man up with pressure and work-rate. 10-9 Smith.
Round 3: Eubank lands a jab early but misses with the uppercut. Smith moving his head and steps in with a crisp jab. The Eubank equivalent sneaks in before Smith retaliates with his trusted overhand right which clips his opponent on the chin. Eubank goes for a wild left hand and misses at the end of the first minute. So far, neither man has really been hurt or troubled by any punch after eight minutes of action.
Smith pressurises but is met with a Eubank one-two. He backs Smith up with a right hand and then hits home with a stiff jab. Smith throws a left at 1.25 of the third while Eubank is on the ropes but he moves off to his right to avoid any follow-up. A right to the body and a left upstairs is successful for Smith seconds later.
Eubank starts to unload a number of jabs for 20 seconds and an uppercut and left hook is then smartly put together. The uppercut has now found its range as Eubank lands a couple more, he’s letting his hands go now. Eubank finishes strong clubbing Smith with a right hand and another uppercut.
“This is a good round for Eubank, he’s kept Smith occupied. Eubank has put down the first significant marker in the fight,” Sky Boxing Commentator Andy Clarke said.
Verdict: A definite 10-9 for Eubank. He took control of the round and was catching Smith more and more.
After three rounds it’s 29-29 on this scorecard. Could we describe Eubank as being dominant? No, is the answer.
Smith was given a bit of a ticking off from trainer Joe McNally as he sat down on his stool after the third. ‘Beefy’ came out for the fourth with real intent. He stepped forward straight into Eubank’s territory letting him know that he’s willing to step into the firing line with the confidence that when he returns fire it will be more damaging.
Eubank was soon in a corner and despite bursts of movement was faced with several punches from either hand. Those that connected put Eubank down almost on to his back. He was quickly on his feet up but staggered towards referee Victor Loughlin in a drunk-like state. The wobbly frame of Eubank was given an opportunity to continue but he could offer no defence to the attack with Smith launched and then ended the fight.
The confidence of Chris Eubank Jr is a great asset but also a weakness. Believing that Smith could do nothing to cause him trouble led to his downfall. He now has four weeks with Terence Crawford’s coach Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntyre to work on a solid strategy that can even up the score in his rivalry with Smith. Eubank is capable of such a feat but to do so the ego needs to be parked miles away from the venue.