Liam Smith's Legacy Is Secure No Matter What Happens Against Eubank Jr

'Beefy' is a British great and Saturday won't change that fact
10:00, 30 Aug 2023

Liam Smith returns to the scene of one of his greatest nights this Saturday as he headlines Manchester Arena. The opponent will be the same too, as ‘Beefy’ squares off with Chris Eubank Jr once more. Smith smashed ‘Next Gen’ to pieces in four rounds in January. Now he is faced with the difficult task of trying to emulate or better the performance.

Fourth round knockouts usually don’t warrant a rematch. But, as is often the case, there was a rematch clause in their initial contract which Eubank Jr has triggered. This one is taking place for one of two reasons. Either Eubank’s claim that Smith threw an elbow on the way to securing that stoppage has been taken seriously. Or, more likely, the commercial success of the first fight is being sought out again. After all, their first meeting did a healthy 200,000 pay-per-view buys and a solid number inside the arena.


Eubank is the fighter who benefits most from this rematch. If he overturns the January result, the former IBO and WBA interim boss can get back on track to try and win a proper world title before he retires. For Smith, the logic is cloudier. He’ll secure a payday, that much is certain. But the former WBO light middleweight champion must know he is on something of a hiding to nothing.

If Smith wins again in the same fashion, he garners no more credit than he did the first time. He has, in essence, already proved his superiority. If the 35-year-old finds it tougher this time, then talk of his decline will set in. If he loses, barring a third meeting, he is likely to get left behind. Eubank will move on, benefitting from a name that has long been a by-word for marketability in the fight game. 

Smith is the second-ranked middleweight in the world with the WBO. Given the question marks over the future of number one contender Gennady Golovkin, the path is clear for the Liverpudlian to secure a title shot. But champion Zhanibek Alimkhanuly is a fearsome fighter. The 14-0 wrecking ball from Kazakhstan is an elite level fighter and would be an almighty test for Smith.


Smith, one of four boxing brothers, has never shied away from a challenge. He lost his world title to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in 2016. In recent years he’s suffered defeats to Jaime Munguia and Magomed Kurbanov. These losses show bravery but also that Smith’s days at the very top may be coming to an end. 

Smith still retains much of his ability though. While he may not be able to trouble boxing legends like ‘Canelo’ or unbeaten sure-things like Munguia and Kurbanov, he is still too much for most. As well as his awesome performance against Eubank, he has solid recent victories over domestic rival Anthony Fowler and former world champion Jessie Vargas. 

Perhaps the real motivation behind this rematch is Smith’s. He can earn a bumper payday here and will be confident of another victory after his knockout win last time. It’s a chance to headline a big arena show and, at 35, there won’t be too many more nights like this for him. It’s a high-risk fight from a reputational standpoint, with a loss possibly undoing everything he achieved the first time. But it’s not an impossible mission, like a fight with someone like Alimkhanuly would be viewed. Perhaps in the event of a Smith win, that bout happens anyway. Whatever happens, Smith has given enough to British boxing to have earned the right to call the shots as his career reaches its autumn years.

Eubank Jr has long been characterised by the idea he did not live up to his potential. But Smith has done all that and more. A former British, Commonwealth and world champion whose place in history will be assured owing to the fact he fought this era’s biggest star in ‘Canelo’. A win over Eubank here wouldn’t define his career so much as put a hard-earned cherry on top of one of British boxing’s more admirable legacies. Stay tuned, there is more to come from ‘Beefy’ yet.

smith to beat eubank jr by knockout: 6/4*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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