Liam Smith never gave any thought to the betting odds considerably in favor of Chris Eubank Jr.
The former WBO 154-pound titlist was equally dismissive of any claims that he couldn’t eventually break the second-generation middleweight. Smith did just that, as he dropped and stopped Eubank in the fourth-round of their middleweight battle last Saturday at AO Arena in Manchester, England. A barrage of punches, accentuated by a left hookercut as he had Eubank cornered, led to the bout’s first knockdown before eventually forcing a stoppage.
“They said [Eubank] cannot be hurt. That was the best way to answer it," Smith said during the post-fight press conference following the high-profile win. ”You get hit with the gloves on, on the right spot, you’re gone—no matter how good your chin is.”
“Obviously it was in great fashion I’ve just beat him in.”
The satisfying ending came after a contentious fight week that saw both fighters get extremely personal in their insults hurled towards the other. Smith (33-3-1, 20KOs) was a +240 betting underdog according to bet365 sportsbook, and an even greater longshot at +900 to win inside the distance.
A stoppage victory of any kind—much less early in the fight—was among the least popular pre-fight predictions. Eubank (32-3, 23KOs) was never previously down as a pro and was believed to have inherited the granite chin boasted by his father Chris Sr., a former two-division titlist and integral part of the 1990s British boxing boom.
It changed in an instant for the 33-year-old Brighton-based contender, who was floored twice in the fateful fourth round. The second knockdown was met with an immediate, well-timed stoppage call by referee Victor Loughlin.
““I was confident that I could beat Chris Eubank ten weeks ago, two weeks ago, yesterday (Friday) and today (Saturday)," noted Smith. "It was just a prime case of what got said all week—Chris’ chin is great. It was like Chris could never be hurt,” “So, it baffled me a few times. I’ve said all along, I don’t think Chris has got a great chin."
Smith is now riding a four-fight win streak, all inside the distance including two straight at middleweight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox