Liam Smith has made Chris Eubank Jr aware he will have to put in a career best performance to compete with him in Manchester next year.
It was announced this week that the pair will face off in a January 21 clash that many fans are calling a 50/50 fight. Smith, who scored an impressive knockout over Jesse Vargas this year and a not so impressive one over Hassan Mwakinyo, told Sky Sports that it was the perfect fight for him.
“If he was at 60% for the fight that never was against Conor Benn, then he’ll need to be at 160% to be ready to face me, a former world champion, in front of thousands of my fans in the North-West.
“For Chris this is a high-risk, low-reward. For me, it’s the perfect platform to show I will rule the world again in 2023. He needs to be prepared for the toughest night of his career.”
When the fighters step through the ropes, it will have been almost a year since Eubank outclassed Liam Williams in Cardiff. Of course, that wasn’t the plan. The son of boxing legend, Chris, was due to face Conor Benn, son of Nigel, in October.
The catchweight clash was set to be a huge event, but proceedings were halted on fight week when it was revealed Benn had tested positive for banned substance, Clomiphene. Smith’s 60% line is a reference to the number that Eubank said he would have to perform at to beat the younger and smaller man in Benn.
It’s been a frustrating period in the sport for Eubank Jr, who is now 33 years old. Smith is 34, and both men have made it clear that they want to fight for world titles before it’s all said and done.
The news of a rematch clause, then, will be disappointing for many fans – especially with no titles on the line. Ben Shalom of BOXXER promotional company told IFL TV that if Smith wins the middleweight fight, he will get the second at Anfield in his home town.
It’s unclear if the clause in the contract works both ways, or if it’s only triggered by a Eubank loss.