Most of the time, if the losing fighter has a rematch clause, he’ll take it, so it wasn’t a shock when Chris Eubank Jr announced he was exercising his for another fight with Liam Smith.
What was a shock was how easily Smith hurt him in January. In the past he’s shown himself to be very, very durable, and Smith’s not the level of puncher you’d expect to hurt a guy with that sort of chin, so I’ve wondered if making weight was what got to Eubank Jr.
That fight had been made to keep pushing Eubank Jr. Smith has been a champion and had a very, very good career, but though dangerous, before the fight he was looked at as past his prime. If Eubank Jr had struggled to make 160lbs then his energy levels and ability to take a punch would have been affected – struggling to make weight can weaken fighters in a number of ways.
His willingness to fight Conor Benn at 157lbs is interesting, and makes me wonder if Benn could have hurt him. By quickly going from one training camp into another Eubank Jr’s weight should have been more managed than it would have been if he’d taken time off, but if his weight was lower in preparation for fighting Benn and he decided to keep it lower than it normally would have been then that could have made the difference. Some fighters can’t hold their fighting weight for long without being weaker – some need to quickly make weight and quickly regain it. Activating his rematch clause means he’ll have to make weight again, but he’s the one who knows his body best.
We also can’t be certain how much he was affected by concerns surrounding his father Chris Eubank Sr’s mental health. Things happen with fighters, in the same way they happen with other people, and they can have those things on their mind from one training camp to the next. It’s possible Eubank Jr didn’t want to think about it but that constantly being asked about it kept it on his mind and made it a distraction.
The competitive streak in the losing fighter makes him want to get back and prove he’s better than he’s shown, but he may also be apprehensive, having been hurt. He may take a clean punch in a fight and overthink it, because he got hurt the last time he did. The circumstances, similarly, could help Eubank Jr as much as they could hinder him.