In his latest column, boxing’s master of all trades Russ Anber reflects on working in Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith’s corner for his showdown with Anthony Fowler…  

All I can say about the fight between Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith and Anthony Fowler is – wow!

Wow, wow, wow!

Immediately after the fight I went up to Eddie Hearn in the ring and I said to him: ‘This fight reminded me of when I started out in boxing in the late 70s when you would get these great showdowns between local boxers from Montreal.’

These local fights between boxers from the same city are what boxing is about. When locals fight each other you get a tremendous atmosphere and electricity in the air.

The atmosphere at Anthony Joshua versus Oleksandr Usyk was absolutely electric but at the end of the day it was a fight that was in Joshua’s backyard. In Liverpool, it was altogether different – while there were more fans there for Beefy than for Fowler it was much more of a divided crowd so the vibe was really special. It’s the sort of atmosphere you can only experience at a fight between two guys vying for supremacy in a local area or city. 

Fowler came out a lot stronger than I expected him to. I thought he might win some early rounds but the three, four, five-punch combinations he was putting together were very impressive. He was really letting his hands go. Every time Beefy blocked a shot Fowler would throw some more. It was spectacular stuff. 

Beefy was really up against it because he also suffered a cut in the very first round. Because the cut was on the left side I had no other choice but to get in and deal with it inside the ring – normally I don’t like to do that because you want the trainer there in front of the fighter, rather than having to call the shots from outside the ring as Beefy’s trainer Joe McNally had to do. But Joe did a tremendous job and called the fight great.

The referee deemed the cut had been caused by a punch so it was important I dealt with it. After the fight Beefy said to me it was about time I worked for my money and strangely enough this is the third consecutive main event fight I’ve been involved in where my fighter has been cut – I had to deal with a Lomachenko cut against Nakatani and then an Usyk cut against Joshua – and two of those cuts happened in the first round!

That’s some kind of a stupid streak I’m on! Normally, as a cut man, your services are rarely required. It’s good to be wanted and of service, but as I have often said to Beefy and my other fighters: ‘You should be very happy if you can pay me to do nothing!’

Back in the ring, in the third round, Fowler rocked Beefy and I thought, ‘Oh shit, we’re in a damn fight here!’ But once Beefy weathered that early storm and started putting some pressure on he assumed control. He scored a knockdown in round five and the tide turned. That punch transformed the fight right there.

Fowler had to fight for his life after that to try and get back into the fight and he expended an enormous amopunt of energy trying to rally. We started telling Beefy in the corner to put his shots together. He was firing too many single shots before that. I told Joe, ‘He’s gotta throw the left hook!’ and Joe said, ‘Yeah he’s does, he’s gotta let it go’.

And sure enough that’s exactly what he did. Ironically enough, he missed with the left to the body and, where earlier in the fight he was stopping and wasn’t following up with a second shot, this time he came straight up to the head and delivered the knockout blow.

All in all, it was a fight and a night of pure excitement in Liverpool!

Russ Anber was talking to Luke G. Williams.

Russ Anber is the founder/CEO of Rival Boxing, as well as a highly respected trainer (of both pros and amateurs), a gym owner, a cut-man, an entrepreneur, a broadcaster and one of the best hand wrappers in the boxing business. Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, Artur Beterbiev, Callum Smith and Michael Conlan are among the many top boxers Russ currently works with.

Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.