Chris Eubank Jr. eyes ‘bigger and better’ fights after TKO of Liam Smith


Chris Eubank Jr. delivered a performance to rescue his career and gained revenge on Liam Smith with a 10th-round stoppage win on Saturday at the AO Arena in Manchester, England.

Unable to afford another damaging loss after Smith stopped him in four rounds in January, Eubank came through and dominated his English middleweight rival in the rematch. He floored Smith in the fourth and 10th rounds, before referee Kevin Parker stopped the fight at 1 minute, 45 seconds.

“There are too many big fights out there. I had to beat Liam,” Eubank said. “Liam is a warrior. He put it all on the line. He didn’t give up. Now we are on to some bigger and better fights. I’m coming for you Conor [Benn], I’m coming for you Kell [Brook]. Anyone who wants it.

“I want to fight GGG,” he said, referring to former middleweight titleholder Gennadiy Golovkin. “Let’s get it on.”

The rematch was originally scheduled for June 17 but was postponed after Smith suffered a minor injury in training camp.

Eubank’s performance was a reminder, after his TKO loss to Smith, that his power and shot selection is a real threat to middleweight world champions Jermall Charlo, Erislandy Lara, Vincenzo Gualtieri and Janibek Alimkhanuly.

Eubank, whose father, Chris Sr., ruled as world middleweight and super middleweight champion in the 1990s, appears desperate to win one of the four major world titles for the first time in his career; he held the WBA “interim” title in 2019, which is not the full world title.

With his career at a crisis point, Eubank produced a fine performance to keep his world title dream alive.

For Smith, however, a first defeat in five fights might have cost him one final world title attempt.

“I was flat from the start,” Smith said. “I had a lot of weight to lose after the injury. I couldn’t move my feet, and Chris was sharp, so fair play to him.”

Eubank, 33, from Brighton, blamed defeat to Smith earlier this year on a lucky and illegal punch. He also said he thought the stoppage was premature, despite being on legs of spaghetti at the time of stoppage. But he ensured the rematch was a different story.

It was not pretty early, but Eubank looked a lot sharper than he did in the first fight, landing the cleaner punches in the first round. Whenever Smith tried to counter, Eubank would hold on.

In the third round, Eubank landed the right uppercut to good effect as he began to establish control.

Then, in the fourth round, Eubank rocked Smith back off his feet with another right uppercut through the Liverpool boxer’s guard. Smith smiled as he received the count, but for the rest of the round he did not offer much back.

Eubank sensed the time was right to push for the stoppage at the start of the fifth round, and he launched a one-minute onslaught with Smith pinned against the ropes for some of it. Smith slipped and blocked a lot of the blows before turning Eubank and surviving the attack.

But the fight was firmly in Eubank’s hands. Eubank, who had American trainer Brian McIntyre in his corner for the first time, switched to the body in the seventh round while Smith was not able to offer any threat in return.

Smith, 35, from Liverpool, did not let his hands go enough to unsettle Eubank. He was too easy to hit for Eubank, and he went down again in the 10th after a barrage of blows. When Smith got to his feet after a count, Eubank went for the finish, forcing the referee to wave it off.

Mayer targets Jonas after shutout win

Also in Manchester, Mikaela Mayer (19-1, 5 KOs) stepped up in weight to comprehensively beat Silvia Bortot (11-3-1, 3 KOs) by a shutout decision, and then she declared her intentions to face IBF world welterweight champion Natasha Jonas next.

All three judges scored the bout 100-90 for Mayer.

Mayer, 33, the former WBC-IBF-WBO world junior lightweight champion, utilized her jab and landed a good right hand in the third round before going on to dominate the fight. The American was too slick for her Italian opponent and controlled the catchweight (between junior welterweight and welterweight) nontitle bout from start to finish.

In Round 9, Mayer attacked the body with Bortot against the ropes, and the former champion finished the 10-round fight on the attack.

It was Mayer’s second fight since quitting the junior lightweight division following a split decision win over American rival Alycia Baumgardner to unify the world titles in October. Mayer won her previous fight at lightweight, but her plans are to operate at 147 pounds.

Jonas (14-2-1, 9 KOs), 39, from Liverpool, was ringside to see Mayer’s third successive fight in the United Kingdom.

Mayer, who is from Colorado but now trains in Las Vegas, said: “I’m ready for that fight [versus Jonas]. It’s a big jump going from 130 pounds to 147 pounds, but I’m prepared to go to 147 pounds and take on Tasha Jonas straight away.

“We’re both looking for big fights, we have both solidified our names, ideally I would want it next.”

Said Jonas: “Let’s do it.”

Azim goes carefully past Fanyan

Also on the undercard, 21-year-old super lightweight contender Adam Azim (9-0, 6 KOs) carefully outpointed Aram Fanyan by unanimous scores of 98-92, 100-90 and 99-91.

In his first fight in seven months, Azim, from Slough, England, maintained a disciplined, patient and conservative strategy for most of the 10-round bout. Only in the eighth round did Azim threaten to produce a stoppage.

Fanyan (23-2, 5 KOs), 26, from Brovary, Ukraine, was a lot more experienced than Azim, who opted to box carefully behind his jab in the opening two rounds.

In the third round, Fanyan landed a couple of good left hooks on the counter, and his movement made it difficult for Azim to stamp his authority on the contest.

The combinations might not have flown from Azim, but his jab was sharp enough to gain a points lead and he moved smartly to avoid Fanyan’s left hook.

But early in the eighth round, Azim launched an attack, unloading hooks and hurting Fanyan with two successive right hands. After that, it was back to the jab for Azim.

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