There will be familiar faces in two corners as Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith fight in Manchester on Saturday night.
Father Eubank is unlikely to be a ringside witness, but it will be his brothers Paul, Stephen and Callum fighting in the Smith corner. There is always talk of family pride when a Eubank or a Smith climbs the ropes.
Smith and Eubank Jr have been in the same fighting circle for a long time, arguing occasionally, watching each other, separated by a few pounds, and inevitably reunited when the amounts made sense. A very good fight at any weight; Eubank Jr has none of the weight-loss obligations hanging over his head that he had in his canceled fight with Conor Benn last year. Canceled after an irregular drug test surfaced and a bad 24 hours for sport, where it looked like a pound bill and common sense and decency would not dominate the day. Benn was brutally ostracized.
The consequences of this failure are still being felt, but Eubank Jr insists it hasn’t made him sleepy. “It happened, the fight broke out – I moved on and now I have to beat Liam,” Eubank Jr. said. Meanwhile, Benn still insists that he is innocent of all drug charges and hopes to fully clear his name in the coming period. weeks.
Smith emerged from this mess as a competitor, and this is how the year will begin with a tremendous internal struggle. Make no mistake, it’s a risk for both.
Smith fought in some tough winning and losing fights, taking the British title and the WBO light-middleweight version. This is his 16th different year professionally but ignore the gray spots in his hair, he’s not yet an old man in the ring. The last 12 months have been good; Eubank is only a year younger, 33, and hasn’t fought since last February.
Each of them has fought many good guys throughout their careers. Smith lost three times, Eubank Jr. twice. He won 32 fights each. Smith lost on the road and in big fights; Eubank Jr forged in high-load local scrap. Eubank Jr loves the aggression that comes with a meaningful fight, and so the downfall of the Benn fight was a very bitter pill to swallow. History between families competed with the raw quality and sharpness of the building. This will have its moments in the days before the fight begins.
Both have what Mickey Duff, arguably the greatest mind in British boxing, calls the “great fighting mindset”. Smith stays calm under any pressure and once whistled on his way to the ring in Texas to fight Saul Canelo Alvarez in front of more than 50,000 fans. Eubank Jr. has played the pantomime villain many times and has often fallen into a hate-filled circle. It’s a personality clash, but far from the circus antics and hostility, there’s a lot of respect. There’s no weakness in their heads or hearts, and that’s going to cause some really stubborn moments in Saturday’s 12-round drama.
Smith certainly earned enough marks from his years at the Rotunda club in Liverpool, and then when he went professional, he was shaped under the constant guidance of Joe Gallagher. He’s a very good professional, a man with strength, movement and good defensive skills. And his new partnership with Joe McNally at the Rotunda added something new to his approach. I saw him last week and he looked like a new guy, thin, fresh-eyed and determined to win.
Eubank Jr prepared for the Benn fight in Hove under the timeless guidance of Ronnie Davies, who had worked with his father Eubank at the gym for years. A man blessed with the patience of all boxing saints, sweet Ronnie was the second person to have Chris Jr. Even in a sport full of extremes, ridiculous stories, and coincidences, it’s a unique bond. However, Roy Jones was brought back to the camp for this fight. This is a sign that Eubank Jr will have to be smarter against Smith than he has to be with Benn; As Smith said, it’s a sign of intent. Once an elusive genius in the ring, Jones can teach a smart fighter to be smarter.
The week will have enough theatrical twists and turns before the first bell rings inside a Manchester Arena. It will be interesting to see the duo eye to eye, and the pulse of the fight will begin before the bell rings. It will take a very good Eubank Jr to beat the best Smith. And it will take the best Smith to beat a very good Eubank Jr. It will be an unforgettable start to the boxing year. Enjoy it.