Chris Eubank Jr. of Sussex (33-3, 23 KOs) got his revenge in impressive fashion on Saturday in his rematch with Liam Smith of Liverpool (33-4-1, 20 KOs), dishing out the punishment to avenge his loss in January in the same Manchester arena where the first bout took place.
After Smith's sensational fourth-round blowout TKO stoppage of Eubank Jr. nine months ago, it was a stunning reversal of fortune for Eubank Jr., who was the underdog going into the rematch. Eubank Jr. fought as if his career depended on it, which it did.
“I had no other choice. I had to win. There are too many other big fights out there for me the fans want to see,” said Eubank Jr. of his win. “I threw so many punches the lettering on my shorts fell off.” Both the B and A in Eubank were missing.
“I trained hard for this fight. My focus is always there.” Eubank Jr. said it had nothing to do with his struggle to make weight for the first fight, and denied it took a different mindset. “It just wasn't my night that night,” said Eubank Jr.
Plot Twist in Fourth Round
After a few cautious rounds, Eubank Jr. returned the favor, dropping Smith in the fourth round of their rematch with a right uppercut, then pressing forward as Smith let Eubank Jr. gain momentum without much return fire. From this point forward, it was all Eubank's fight. Smith couldn't touch him.
Eubank Jr. came out strong in round five, catching Smith and blasting away with hooks and uppercuts from all angles with Smith against the ropes. Referee Kevin Parker didn't step in, apparently not believing fight-stopping damage was done. Somehow, Smith survived but was holding on by his fingernails, losing steam round after round.
In the tenth round, Eubank Jr. dropped Smith again. Bloodied and discouraged, it's a mystery why Smith's corner didn't throw in the towel. This time, referee Parker took care of Smith and called it a day.
Smith said he was just flat from the start. “The weight killed me a little bit. That’s all I’ve got to say. I couldn’t move my feet, and when I did I rolled my ankle. Chris was sharp early on.”
Brian McIntyre: 2023 Trainer of the Year?
Despite not mentioning or thanking him in the ring after the right, credit goes to Eubank Jr.'s new trainer Brian “Bomac” McIntrye, who guided Terence Crawford to undisputed championships in two weight divisions. Eubank Jr. replaced his former trainer and role model Roy Jones Jr. with McIntyre just five weeks before Saturday's fight.
Even with four months left in 2023, it's not out of line to consider McIntyre to have a lock on being named 2023 Trainer of the Year.
Eubank Jr. said of his performance it's doing all the small things right including nutrition, training, and focus. “They all add percentages, What I’ve learned over the years is you have to take every percentage you can.”
Several fighters who could be future opponents were ringside for the fight. “I see a few of these guys in the crowd. I see you, I’m coming for you Conor (Benn), I’m coming for you, Kell (Brook).”
But Eubank Jr. picked an unexpected name. “Listen, I want to fight Triple G,” former middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin. “I don’t know where you are, you’ve been holding onto those belts for too long, I want to take one of them.”
Someone will need to break it to Eubank Jr. that Golovkin no longer holds any middleweight titles, and his last fight was one year ago at super middleweight. Count on the Benn fight getting back on the calendar long before Eubank Jr. looks across the ring at the future Hall of Famer.
Mikaela Mayer Tests New Division With Win Over Silvia Bortos
Former unified junior lightweight world champion Mikaela Mayer of Colorado Springs (19-1, 5 KOs), who fought at lightweight in her April 2023 bout in England, returned to the UK to test her fortunes at super lightweight. Mayer wins the unanimous decision over Silvia Bortos of Italy (10-3, 4 KOs). The referee score from Steve Gray was a 100-90 shutout for Mayer.
Mayer showed good power at the new weight, landing solid right hooks and solid body shots, one that clearly hurt Bortos in the ninth round. Mayer showed some frustration after putting Bortos in danger but not being able to stop her. Mayer commented if she had a three-minute round to work with, she would have gotten it done.
Of her first fight at 140, Mayer said, “It felt good. First time at a little heavier weight but that’s where I belong. I felt strong I felt great.”
Mayer looked comfortable at the weight, losing the slightest touch of hand and foot speed in exchange for improved power. Mayer could fight at distance at 5-foot-9, but she says he prefers to fight on the inside and mix it up, where additional weight could be helpful to her and win over fans who like the action.
Mayer credited her promoters at Top Rank for matching her tough and moving her along well, “I have to make sure I’m not in there with easy opponents.”
It was Mayer’s third fight in the UK and that’s no coincidence. She is angling for bigger names and paydays. Mayer has her eye on IBF World Welterweight champion Natasha Jonas of Liverpool, who was working on the Sky Sports commentary team ringside. She is familiar with Jonas from amateur competition, but says she will focus on dissecting her skills as a pro if a fight is signed.
“It’s no joke going from 130 to 147, but that’s the one I want next. From what I hear she’s game and wants it too,” said Mayer. She will be a welcome addition where the elite women sometimes struggle to find competition worthy of their talents.
2020 Olympic gold medalist Lauren Price, who won her fifth fight against no losses on the undercard earlier, watched ringside with Olympic teammate turned pro Caroline Dubois. Dubois fights at lightweight, but Price fights at welterweight and has her eye on Mayer, too.
Olympian Frasier Clarke Goes Low, Gets TKO Win Over Allen
Low blows appeared as a storyline in yet another heavyweight bout, but in the end didn’t affect the outcome as Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Frasier Clarke of Staffordshire (8-0, 6 KOs) got the sixth round TKO win over David Allen of Yorkshire (21-6-2, 18 KOs). Clarke spent the first few rounds treading cautiously against Allen, what the Brits would call an “experienced campaigner,” Clarke started getting more aggressive with looping right hooks, uppercuts, and body shots. In the sixth round, Clarke was cited three times by referee Mark Lyson for low blows to Allen and docked two points. But Allen retired after the round after suffering damage to the jaw and a damaged eardrum from the Clarke right hooks.
“Not vintage, I learn on the job,” admitted Clarke. “He’s a tough man like I knew he would be. I tried my variation, it did backfire on me.” Clarke declared he’s a clean fighter and apologized for straying low while saying he thought a few of the shots were legal. Clarke then said Allen and his corner “tried to manipulate the referee,” using the recent controversy involving another British heavyweight, Daniel Dubois, to gain his favor. “Fair play, they tried to use it to their advantage.” Clarke said he trusts his skills and wants to avoid being too cautious. “You’re walking a massive tightrope.”
We’ll keep it brief about the lackluster bout between super lightweight Adam Azim of Berkshire (9-0, 6 KOs) and Aram Fanilian of Ukraine (23-2,5 KOs). Azim won a ten-round decision by ridiculously wide scorecards, having puttered around for two-thirds of the fight before finally deciding to throw punches. Fanilian was far more active and won more than the one or two rounds given to him by the judges.