Chris Eubank Jr. insists his rematch with Liam Smith brought prizefighting a much-needed boost of honesty.
Last Saturday night in Manchester, England, Eubank turned back the lone stoppage loss of his career with a dominant 10th-round technical knockout of Smith.
Eubank was in control the whole way, dropping the rugged Liverpudlian twice in the process and displayed the sort of strength and poise that was missing when Smith stopped him in four rounds in January at the same venue.
Gaining his revenge notwithstanding, Eubank apparently feels the fight was something of a boon to boxing, given some of the more troubling news that has lately circulated within the sport.
Describing himself and Smith as “clean” and the “not giving up” type of athletes, Eubank made it clear he has low regard for the fighters who have seemingly skirted the regulatory (however threadbare) guidelines and most time-honored customs governing boxing.
“It’s about me being the best fighter I can be,” Eubank said of what his win over Smith signifies in an interview with Sky. “It’s about me representing my family and representing the sport that we love. It’s just a shame, because at the moment there are so many people disrespecting the sport with their behavior. So yeah, fighters like me and Liam, going out there clean, putting it all out on the line, not giving up, it’s important for the fans to see.”
Boxing—and British boxing, in particular—has seen a wave of positive drug tests recently, including, last month, Dillian Whyte. Most notably, last year, Conor Benn tested positive twice for the same banned substance. Benn was supposed to fight Eubank last October but the revelation of one of Benn’s tests led to the last-minute cancellation of their high-profile bout. Earlier this summer, it was revealed that Amir Khan had tested positive for a banned substance immediately after his punishing knockout loss to Kell Brook last year. There have been other notable failed tests as well: Last month, both women’s undisputed junior lightweight champion Alycia Baumgardner and Robert Helenius tested positive for banned substances.
Eubank’s point about “not giving up” was obviously a reference to Daniel Dubois, the British heavyweight widely criticized for taking a knee—and then counted out—in the ninth round against Oleksandr Usyk one weekend ago.
Afterward, an elated Eubank called out the likes of Brook, Benn, and Gennadiy Golovkin.
“There were so many people that didn’t think that I could win,” Eubank said. “Everyone’s telling me I’m the underdog, too old, I made too much money, I don’t have the hunger any more, I play too much poker, I travel too much, you know, all these things I’m seeing online, and I’m just like, I’m not that guy. I’m a fighter, this is what I do.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.