For fight fans all over the world, 2023 promises to be a year that provides a feast of entertainment given that in almost every division, there are box office showdowns set to take place over the course of the next 12 months that will help shape the history of the sport.
The world of boxing
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main focus in 2023 is being given to Tyson Fury’s world heavyweight title clash with Oleksandr Usyk where, according to the outright sports betting markets, the Englishman is priced at odds of -225 to beat the Ukrainian in early March. Understandably, a fight with this much international attention is always going to dominate the narrative around the sport but there may potentially be another bout that will end the year as the biggest story in boxing.
Indeed, Liam Smith’s recent stoppage win against Chris Eubank Jr has set the stage for a rematch to take place this year. Crucially, Eubank will have to activate the rematch clause in the contract that both he and Smith signed months ago but so far, he has not officially stated that he will.
The nature of defeat will be a concern for Eubank
In fact, Eubank’s promoter Kalle Sauerland has said that they will wait a few weeks in order for the dust to settle before announcing their decision. To paraphrase Sauerland’s words, Eubank and his team will sit down to analyze the bout against Smith to see if there is any chance that they could reverse the result in any future rematch.
Normally, these decisions are made instantly but given that Eubank was stopped by Smith in just the fourth round, and on top of the fact that the fight at the Manchester Arena was the first time in the 33-year-old’s career that he was sent to the canvas, there is naturally, a lot for Eubank and his team to mull over.
“I FEEL THAT HE [EUBANK] CAN’T WIN A REMATCH THE WAY THINGS ARE”— IFL TV (@IFLTV) January 23, 2023
👀 @EddieHearn discusses a potential rematch between Liam Smith & Chris Eubank Jr.
Watch the full interview HERE ➡️ https://t.co/Tnd6rbscVd#EddieHearn #EubankJrSmith #BoxingFans pic.twitter.com/1gAYkC8kL0
The positives are that Eubank seemed to be in the ascendancy prior to the fourth round starting before Smith caught him with what Eubank describes as a ‘once in a lifetime shot.’
There may be a degree of truth to this but the reality is also that Eubank didn’t cause Smith enough damage when he had the momentum on his side. Tellingly, Smith was fit enough to play for his Sunday League soccer team in the morning following the bout on Saturday night. In other words, despite spending months in a grueling training camp in preparation for a war with Eubank, the Liverpudlian came away almost entirely unscathed from their brief battle and was able to play amateur soccer the next day. Needless to say, few could have predicted the ease with which events unfolded for Smith.
A decision that shouldn’t be rushed
As initially touched on, there are a host of factors for Eubank and his team to consider when weighing up the wisdom of getting back into the ring with Smith.
With that said, they say that styles make fights, and even if their bout was short-lived, it did make for an enthralling spectacle with both men happy to drop their hands and go for the win from the first bell. It was this appetite to put on a spectacular show and thrilling knockout that will guarantee tickets to a potential rematch sell out quickly. It is now up to Eubank to decide if it’s in his best interests to go toe to toe with Smith again.