Chris Eubank Jr produced a frustrating performance in his win against a gallant Liam Williams in Cardiff tonight.
Their middleweight encounter was a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly as the two men settled a bitter rivalry that started over a year ago.
As the crowd inside the Motorpoint Arena warmed their vocal pipes to the sound of ‘Delilah’ led by a singer who was not Tom Jones the unusual stage was set.
Chants of “Liam, Liam, Liam” carried their man into battle during the opening round but with 40 seconds left the local hero was dropped by a well-time jab. A sign that Eubank Jr had most certainly learned from his trainer, one-time boxing Superman Roy Jones Jr.
The speed in Eubank’s locker was far too much for Williams at times who was dropped in the second by a one-two that looked less than troublesome. The writing was on the wall, or so we thought.
The third brought some calm into the storm which Williams was trying to survive. And just as he got a foothold into the fight he was cut from a punch after the bell much to the fury of the crowd and Williams’ corner led by Adam Booth.
As the atmosphere turned itself up to 11 every time Williams had success in the fourth session their man was down once again. That lightning jab of Eubank’s was killing the underdog’s chances and had now visited the canvas three times.
Eubank began looking for a highlight reel one-round knockout and so began traits of old. Roy Jones Jr must’ve smiled at what he witnessed in the opening few rounds but as the fight wore on his student looked to showboat, chat to his opponent and play the role of Matador with not an ‘Ole’ to be heard surprisingly.
Williams was dragging Eubank back round by round with well time right hands from distance and come forward pressure that the Englishman tried to answer but looked reckless in doing so.
From rounds five to nine a strong case could have been made for Williams winning them all. To his credit the three early knockdowns had gone from his mind and for him each round was a fresh start.
Referee Mark Lyson had to be on top of both fighters warning them both on occasions for illegal punching and headlocks. It was untidy at times and Eubank did try to let his hands go but he was looking as ragged as Williams was earlier on in the fight.
In the ninth round Eubank spent most of the three minutes moving, feinting, and missing. Williams had hope and the crowd bought into it. However, any fire left in the Welsh dragon was extinguished in the 11th when Williams went down again. Despite his rightful protests at it not being anything other than a push Referee Lyson was having none of it. Another 10-8 in Eubank’s favour.
The final round had Eubank back in his role of matador. At one stage Williams stopped fighting, put his hands on his hips, looked at Lyson frustrated by the antics of a man who believes he can be a world champion.
Eubank ran out a deserved winner on all three scorecards (116-109, 116-108, 117-109) in the end thanks mainly to those four knockdowns, two of which were correct, the other two could have been overruled. It was a performance that showed moments of genuine world class ability, mixed with characteristics from the past and theatrics that don’t close a show or cut it at the very top. Williams can be proud of his efforts. He may have concerns about his punch resistance but his recovery from those initial knockdowns will live in the memory with those that were in Cardiff tonight.
“Happy with the performance. I wanted to teach this man a lesson,” Eubank told Sky Sports Andy Scott afterwards outside his changing room.
“He said some very menacing things to me leading up to this fight and I wanted to punish him. I thought I don’t want to knock this guy out in the first round I want to teach him a lesson and get people like that out of boxing. You saw the fight. Headbutts, headlocks, I’m surprised he didn’t get disqualified. I took it like a man and punished him like I said I was going to do. It was a fun night.”
Eubank now takes his record to (32-2, 23 KOs) while Williams fourth professional loss now moves him on to (23-4-1, 18 KOs).
On the televised undercard Chris Jenkins got his career moving once again with an eight-round points decision win over former super-lightweight world champion Julius Indongo. Olympian Caroline Dubois impressed on her professional debut with a six-round shut out against Vaida Masiokaite. And with Savannah Marshall watching ringside Clarissa Shields defended her three world middleweight titles by pounding Ema Kozin over ten rounds. Marshall and Shields then faced off ringside followed by verbal exchanges with the two hoping to meet in an undisputed title fight later this year.
The non-televised portion provided an early domestic fight of the year contender with Samuel Antwi retaining his English welterweight title after 10 brutal rounds against Conah Walker. There were also wins for Harlem Eubank and Otto Wallin while Ivan Drago lookalike Steve Robinson was exposed badly on his second outing subsequently losing to Shane Gill on points.