IT could end up being the latest installment in the long-running series of ‘Fights Too Good and Obvious to Actually Happen’ but today there is renewed hope that Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jnr will fight at some point, given the announcement this morning that Smith has signed with BOXXER and Sky Sports.
With the two boxers now living under the same roof, it would appear a natural fight to make, both financially and geographically. Indeed, it is a fight that has been talked about for some time; one arguably never more alluring than it is right now.
“I’m delighted to put pen to paper with Boxxer,” Smith told Sky Sports Boxing. “I had a lot of offers but I’m glad to finally get this across the line and be back on Sky Sports. Boxxer are doing great things in the sport and making big waves and I’m happy to be part of that.
“Some of the big fights and names have excited me and I’m really looking forward to the next 12 months, with my next fight to be announced shortly. I can’t wait to get back out there and challenge for a world title at 154 pounds and get everyone talking about me again.”
Now, of course, such is the nature of these kind of deals, don’t expect Smith and Eubank Jnr to be fighting each other anytime soon. Rather, the suspicion is that this potential fight will now be built – built perhaps to the point of overkill – and we will invariably have to then endure a process whereby both fight on the same card and we find ourselves crossing our collective fingers and toes in the hope neither of them lose ahead of sharing a ring.
Or, then again, maybe to assume this is wrong. Maybe, if both of them stay on track, and Smith gets off to a good start with BOXXER in September, we will be looking at something happening between them come the end of this year or, at worst, early next year. That could work.
“I’ll be ready to fight in September,” Smith confirmed. “I’ll be pushing for September and I want to fight September.
“I’ve had a good little break since the Jessie Vargas fight (in April of this year) and I want to be back out September. I don’t want to be too long out of the ring because I feel I’m getting better with momentum. There are a few big fights mentioned and talked about and I want to be involved in the big fights.”
So far, in a professional career stretching almost 14 years, Smith has a had few big fights, though probably still not enough for his liking. Most famously, of course, he defended his WBO super-welterweight belt against Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez in September 2016, which was a fight that ended in defeat – a ninth-round stoppage – but nevertheless did a lot for Smith’s stock and reputation on a world level.
Since then, he has twice defeated Welshman Liam Williams, someone with whom Eubank Jnr is also familiar, and he has lost decisions against two undefeated fighters in Jaime Munguia (2018) and Magomed Kurbanov (2021). Of late, though, Smith has enjoyed something of a resurgence, stopping Anthony Fowler in eight rounds in 2021 and then, last time out, breaking down Jessie Vargas in 10. Those two wins have successfully brought the Liverpudlian back into title contention and presumably made him an appealing proposition for both Boxxer and Sky Sports.
Whether Smith, now 31-3-1 (18), is quite so appealing for Eubank Jnr, a middleweight with an eye for picking the path of least resistance, is anyone’s guess. However, one thing is now clear: Smith, in ending up on the same side of the street as the Brighton man, is certainly doing all he can to make his presence known.
“You’ve never seen the best of me to a certain extent,” said the 33-year-old. “I feel like I’m coming to the peak of my career because I’m getting momentum. I’ve had three fights in 12 months, I’m still fit, I’m still fresh, and I can still fight in September. I’ve always said that with momentum I feel like you’ll get the best out of me. If you look back over my career, I probably haven’t had three fights in a 12-month period for a long time.
“It didn’t start the best way with the Russia situation (against Kurbanov) but that was out of my hands. I’ve had two good nights, beating Fowler and beating Vargas, and I feel like I’m getting better and better now. I’m coming into a good part of my career. I know I’m 33 and I’ve been a pro a long time, but, with momentum, I feel I’m getting to be a better fighter.”