Chris Eubank Jr’s return to the ring has been announced for January 21 next year at Manchester’s AO Arena.
Following weeks of hints, Liam Smith has now been confirmed as the opponent in what will be a Sky Box Office event. The middleweight contest marks a strong start to the year for both men following a less than ideal end to 2022.
MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT💥 #EubankJrSmith
It's official! Two of Britain's biggest names collide, putting their careers on the line to kick off 2023 😤
🎟Sign-up for pre-sale: https://t.co/yt3WMVmjuR#Unleashed | 21.01.23 | AO Arena | @firstname.lastname@example.org/6BLJwrTJEq
— BOXXER (@boxxer) November 24, 2022
Eubank Jr (32-2, 23 KOs) of course most recently made headlines for almost fighting. His bout with Conor Benn had just grasped mainstream attention when the news broke that a banned substance was found in Benn’s system by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency.
His last outing was a decisive points victory over Liam Williams in Cardiff in February of this year. Despite keeping in shape and completing a gruelling training camp for Benn in the time since, he’ll face a tough test in Smith after almost a year out of the ring. On the plus side, he’ll be back making a 160lb weight limit.
Eubank has had big shoes to fill ever since he followed his father into the family sport. He’s made it clear that he’s on a world title quest, and, at 33 years of age, his time must be now.
Smith (32-3, 19 KOs) recently signed with BOXXER and Sky Sports to chase either world honours or big fights, and he’s opted for the latter with this match up.
He last beat Hassan Mwakinyo in a somewhat bizarre contest back in September, marking a three-fight win streak since a disappointing – and controversial – loss to Magomed Kurbanov. In that time, he became the only man to stop former world champion, Jesse Vargas.
The Liverpool man has always fancied his chances against Eubank Jr, calling him out on many occasions, and will no doubt bring a strong support to Manchester on the night. ‘Beefy’ will hope that a win here will propel him back into world title contention, having previously lost his WBO super welterweight belt to Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez.
In what most fans will regard as a true 50/50 scrap, the January bout sets up 2023 as a year for boxing fans to see close contests between big names – but it will also mark the first pay-per-view event for many, too.