If you were a kid in the 80s, there was a commercial that stood out to you by Wendy’s where a lovely old lady shouts the phrase, “Where’s the beef?” That line would be used for years to describe the questioning of something, whether a product, event or in Saturday night’s case, a person. Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith (33-4-1, 20 KOs) came into the Manchester Arena in the U.K. with the whole building behind him, and the general consensus was that he would repeat what he did in January against Chris Eubank Jr. (33-3, 24 KOs), but that would not be the case. Instead, it left many wondering, “Where’s the beef?”
When the two combatants received the final instructions from the referee before the start of the fight, they were both oozing with confidence as they each felt they had the right plan to come out victorious. From the beginning of the fight, Eubank Jr. came out with an odd approach: he would throw a couple of combinations and then proceed to hold. The holding was excessive, but the referee allowed it without any warning. Smith was getting frustrated almost immediately, and he had a hard time getting started. The second round was more of the same, and those on X began to wonder if the fight would be that way throughout the whole night. Little did we all know that it was Eubank Jr.’s unique way of getting to Smith.
In the third round, there was a sequence that would drastically change the fight and preview what would later become a stoppage victory. Eubank Jr. landed a hard left hook to the body that almost immediately had Smith go on the defensive. The commentators didn’t pick it up right away, but Smith felt it, and Eubank Jr. knew it almost instantly. After that, Smith would have that right elbow clinched to his side to protect those ribs, which allowed Eubank Jr. to open up more with his offense.
In the next round, Eubank Jr. would land an uppercut that Smith didn’t see coming, which sent him down for the fight's first knockdown. Eubank Jr. went for the finish after Smith beat the ten count but found himself missing many punches, and Smith would survive the round. Eubank Jr. would later open up a cut on Smith’s right eye, and things started to get ugly for him. In the tenth round, Eubank Jr. knocked Smith down again, and after a flurry of punches, the referee stopped the fight, awarding Eubank Jr. the TKO victory.
It was a story divided into two parts from their first fight in January. The 35-year-old Smith looked every bit of his age last night, and that can happen quickly in boxing. When you are in your mid-30s, you are one fight away from looking like an old man in the ring and getting beat up. Smith did not have his legs under him from the start, and maybe he knew what he was walking into as his ring walk felt like this could be his last fight. You could almost see him battling back and forth with that thought in his mind as the cameras followed him up close. There are options for him at junior middleweight but none that he can realistically win, especially after how he looked in this second fight against Eubank Jr. For Smith, he will have time to rest and think about what he wants to do moving forward and if it means continuing to fight, the question then becomes whether that will be at 154 or 160 pounds.
Eubank Jr. is a little younger than Smith but has seen his best days. After the first fight, he felt a trainer change was necessary, so he hired Brian ‘BoMac’ McIntyre, who had him look better prepared than he was with Roy Jones Jr. Although Eubank Jr. failed to give McIntyre and his team their flowers after the fight, it was clear that they significantly impacted Eubank Jr.’s performance. There wasn’t any lazy defense by Eubank Jr., and he looked like a fighter who knew precisely what he needed to do and not trying to figure it out on the fly.
Where does he go from here? Eubank Jr. mentioned a fight with Gennadiy ‘GGG” Golovkin or with Kell Brook, who was in attendance. He knows that a fight against one of the other middleweight champions, although desired, wouldn’t be as financially fulfilling as one with GGG or Brook. Eddie Hearn immediately posted the idea of revisiting the Conor Benn fight, but that has lost a ton of steam since Benn tested positive for various performance-enhancing drugs. Eubank Jr. has options, and that’s a good thing.
On Saturday night, we were reminded that Father Time remains undefeated, and as much as it’s something we forget about from time to time, it only takes one fight to remember that it’s a real thing. Smith has had a good run and made good money in the sport, but anything after this second Eubank Jr. fight will only lead to him getting more hurt. Smith has to think about his future and what’s best for him and his family, while Eubank Jr. needs to figure out which fight will get him the biggest bag.