Everything was on the line for Chris Eubank Jr before the first bell of his rematch with Liam Smith. At the end of the match, everything changed.
He was, as he put it, “hooked”. Sky Sports rather, with the future of his boxing career hanging in the balance as he heads into the bout.
After knocking Smith out of the fight after 10 furious rounds at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday night, Eubank was suddenly back at the top level, in a position to force his way into the mix with some of the biggest names in the sport.
Talk to Sky Sports after his victory, he did not choose any target for his next opponent.
“There is no real ideal fight,” he said Sky Sports. “There are so many great names out there.
“I would like to fight Golovkin and I would like to fight for the world title.
“But there are also great household names.
His promoter Kalle Sauerland acknowledged that Eubank has many options ahead of him.
“Anything is possible,” he said Sky Sports. “We want to have big fights and that’s what we’re going to do on Monday. But right now we’re going to celebrate until the sun comes up.”
It was the highlight of Eubank’s career – beating the first man who knocked him out in an instant rematch.
After bringing in Brian ‘BoMac’ McIntyre and a new training squad just weeks out from this match, it was an extraordinary vindication.
“He stayed focused,” Sauerland said. “He knew what he had to do.
“The biggest credit goes to Junior. He licked his wounds, he went to a grueling camp with many failures.”
But he also emphasized the character of the performance. “I have a lot of respect for the Smith family,” Sauerland said. “Tonight was a little bit of everything. It was like BoMac managed to arrange the dots, connect them with lines. Fantastic, really amazing.”
“It was the way BoMac organized everything. It was like everything came together at once.”
McIntyre himself was confident after the competition.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the fighter,” he said Sky Sports. “I’m happy for him, his family, his team.
“Chris is a fighter. He knows what to do. You just have to remind a fighter like that what to do and what not to do.”
“He followed the game plan down to the tee to stay off the ropes, work behind the shot, combinations went to the body and it worked. He just did the things he usually does.”
“That uppercut we were working on, that shot. So that was great. I loved it.”
However, few observers outside of Eubank’s circle tipped him to upset Smith.
“They doubted him and they doubted the will, they doubted my knowledge,” McIntyre said.
“He wanted pressure. He liked pressure. So he didn’t mind it at all.
“He wanted to silence the doubters, so he did what he had to do.”
McIntyre, best known as the trainer of pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford, but who will now also be celebrated for saving Eubank’s career, believes the Brighton man has earned his place at the top of the middleweight division.
“He should be a three or four at 160 pounds right now,” McIntyre said. “I’d like to see him get a title shot. He’s proven himself at 160 pounds.”
“He did a great job.
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