A critical look at the past week in boxing
Chris Eubank Jr.
Some fighters never rebound after suffering a brutal knockout like the one endured by Eubank against Liam Smith in January, the first stoppage loss of Eubank’s career. It takes unusual mental toughness, the kind Eubank demonstrated in their rematch Saturday night in Manchester, England. He fought as if the first fight never happened, cooly outboxing, outworking and ultimately breaking down his conqueror en route to a 10th-round knockout victory. He couldn’t have been much more impressive. Smith said afterward that he was flat, which is plausible given arguably the weakest performance of his career. Eubank outlanded him 193-33 overall, according to CompuBox. However, make no mistake: That had a lot more to do with a splendid performance by Eubank than any deficiency on the part of Smith (33-4-1, 20 KOs). Eubank (33-3, 24 KOs) is now back to being in a strong position among 160-pound contenders. He has a strong track record, name recognition and a sensational victory in his most recent fight, which should lead directly to another big matchup. He mentioned the possibility of fighting Gennadiy Golovkin, Conor Benn, Kell Brook or one of the current titleholders in his next fight. Anything is possible for him after what he did to Smith at AO Arena.
Is Smith finished? Probably not. The 35-year-old Liverpudlian had looked terrific in his previous four fights, all knockout victories. And he obviously believes he could’ve been more competitive against Eubank, suggesting that he had an off night, the result of difficulty cutting weight and a twisted ankle mid-fight. I expect him to fight at least one or two more times – probably at 168 pounds – to gauge where he stands before seriously considering retirement. … Trilogy? No, thank you. A third fight might makes sense given their 1-1 record but another meeting is neither necessary nor compelling given Eubank’s utter dominance on Saturday. He needs to move on. … Eubank deserves full credit for his ability to turn the tables on Smith but kudos to new trainer Brian “Bomac” McIntrye, Terence Crawford’s mentor. It’s not often that a fighter working with a new trainer looks as sharp as Eubank did. … Mikaela Mayer (19-1, 5 KOs) reminded us on the Eubank-Smith card that she remains one of the best female fighters, shutting out Silvia Bortot (11-3-1, 3 KOs) in a 10-round 147-pound fight. It was her second consecutive victory since lose a close decision and her 130-pound titles to Alycia Baumgardner last October. Mayer plans to stay at 147 and is targeting Natasha Jones (14-2-1, 9 KOs), who holds the IBF title. Mayer would be at a size disadvantage but has the skillset to be competitive in that fight.