LIAM SMITH says he will have plenty of options to explore should his fight against Chris Eubank Jr not go ahead.
The two British middleweights fought on January 21 with Smith walking through his rival and stopping him in four rounds at the AO Arena, Manchester. It was a stunning result that very few predicted. Despite the nature of the outcome Eubank Jr chose to take up his rematch clause and face ‘Beefy’ once again.
There has, however, been a constant elephant in the room. Welterweight Conor Benn had been scheduled to fight Eubank Jr in a 157lbs catchweight contest on October 8, 2022, at the O2 Arena, London. A few days prior it was revealed that Benn had failed a drugs test for the banned substance clomifine resulting in the fight being called off. In April this year the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) confirmed they charged and provisionally suspended Benn for two doping violations which occurred in July and then September last year.
Since then, talk of the two fighting one another has never really gone away despite Benn still needing approval to box in the UK by the British Boxing Board of Control.
Nine months on and a rivalry born out of surnames lingers on. Benn’s promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom CEO Frank Smith remain very confident that the fight will take place this year with September 23 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi being targeted.
The Smith-Eubank Jr rematch has already fallen through on two occasions for June 17 and then July 1 which were to be staged at the same venue as their first fight. Both times Smith withdrew due to an ongoing injury.
The fight’s promoter Ben Shalom told Sky Sports News yesterday that he still believes the rematch will happen with dates at the end of August and early September being looked at.
Today, Smith spoke to Boxing News about whether or not he will be fighting Eubank Jr next.
“I’m looking for a date in September, hopefully I’m ready in September. Hopefully he sticks and fight me rather than Conor Benn. I said from day dot he wants to fight Conor Benn. It’s the easier fight for more money. I wouldn’t be surprised at all. If there’s a way, he can fight Conor with no restrictions and no backlash off any [Boxing] Board he’ll fight Conor Benn.”
The 34-year-old Liverpudlian would not be short of potential opponents should Eubank Jr move on. Smith currently holds top five positions in three of the four sanctioning bodies top 10 rankings between super-welterweight and middleweight.
“I’ve got enough options,” he said. “I’m in a good position. I can fight anyone. [Kell] Brook. Anybody.”