Liam Smith is convinced that the confidence of Chris Eubank Jr was just a mask to hide fear when they met in the ring in Manchester.
Smith became the first man to hurt, drop and stop Eubank Jr in a professional ring. His flurry of fourth round power punches – including a highlight reel uppercut – had the Brighton man stumbling around the ring dazed and confused.
Reflecting on the fight, Smith has told TalkSPORT that he felt his opponent was ‘scared’ from the first bell.
“Round one I just thought Chris was very scared of getting hit. Us as boxers don’t really mind taking a punch, as much as that sounds crazy. I thought ‘you’re terrified of getting hit here. Right, I’m gonna nail you soon.’ Obviously, eventually I did.”
“All week I got told I cannot hurt Chris to the head, Chris can’t be hurt to the head – I thought you’re fooled if you think that. Any fighter can be hurt … Chris has got a good chin but in boxing anybody can be hurt. Carl Froch had a great chin and got dropped off George Groves.”
Despite his stoppage success in the fourth, Smith revealed that he strayed from the game plan in the third and that lead to Eubank catching him clean with a couple of uppercuts. His trainer, Joe McNally, set him straight.
“I was just told – in different words – stop trying to be a tough man. The plan was, be a tough man later on in the fight, hold your feet, push him back. I wanted to make Chris work at a pace he doesn’t like working at. My [take] on the fight was Chris is fit and durable but I don’t think he’s got the engine he used to have.
Whether that’s his age, whether that’s his weight, the last three fights I’ve watched when you strip it back I don’t think Chris works as hard as he used to work. Late on in the fight I would’ve pressed the fight a little bit more and made Chris punch when he didn’t want to punch. Obviously I did that in a stage in round three and got caught off a couple of uppercuts.”
Finally, Smith said that it would be very ‘mentally challenging’ for Eubank to come back and take on the rematch right away. Whilst the Liverpool man would honour the contract, he’s keen to ‘push on’ and see where this latter stage of his career can go.