Chris Eubank Jr came into his first fight with Liam Smith armed with a variety of quips designed to goad his opponent.
He suggested he didn’t need to be at full capacity to win, he argued that there was nothing exciting about the Liverpudlian. To Smith he exhibited a pride bordering on arrogance.
Their contest in January exploded into ferocious action early on and it was Smith who had the final say in that first encounter, winning by knockout in four rounds.
Ahead of their September 2 rematch, live on Sky Sports Box Office, Smith wondered whether Eubank Jr would now have been humbled.
“He should be,” Smith told Sky Sports, “but he won’t.”
After their fight, Smith recalled: “He goes to say the better man won and he says: ‘the better…’ and he doesn’t finish his sentence.”
But the Liverpudlian feels he has made his own statement. He always insisted that, based on a past sparring session, he could hurt Eubank. In the fight itself he showed he did have that power.
“I don’t know how many of you believed the sparring story, I don’t know if you believed it or not but I feel like I’ve proved a point now,” Smith said.
“I didn’t just pull it out of the air. I fully did do him to the body [in sparring] and I’ve done him in the head now too. He knows I can hurt him. I know I can hurt him.”
“The result was nothing that I didn’t expect. I never once had defeat in my mind. The satisfying thing was the manner I done it in,” he continued.
“A lot of journalists said to me about his chin and it was basically made out like it was pointless trying to go to his head because you’re not going to hurt him. So to do what nobody thought could be done is the more satisfying thing for me.
“But also it’s a lesson for everyone that asked me that question – there’s people with better chins than Chris Eubank Jr over the past 30 years of boxing who have been knocked out.
“Any man, any fighter, especially who can throw a punch with 10 ounce gloves on, hits you on the button, there’s a chance you can go, no matter how good your chin is.”
The combination that took Eubank down though was expertly delivered.
“It was good variety. There was a straight right hand, there was left hooks involved in it. I think it was nine, 10, 11 punches, a flurry before the last left hook dropped Chris. It was good, a good combination,” Smith explained.
“Once I knew I hurt him, once I knew his legs were gone, I knew I’d stop him because there were two minutes left in the round and there was no way I was going to let him hear the bell in that round.”
Eubank has questioned the stoppage, with his team suggesting an elbow connected within the salvo of punches.
Smith has dismissed that claim. “People are missing, the first right hand wobbled him to his boots. The last left hook was probably the weakest shot of them all maybe. The left hook just before the left hook that drops him was a big shot. But again just Chris being Chris,” he said.
“Take me lightly all you want. But you got dropped. You got stopped.”
The implicit threat is clear. Smith proved a point in the first fight, but he would relish the chance to do so again.