With the build-up overshadowed by unpleasant exchanges during Thursday’s final pre-fight press conference, there was little love lost between the fighters as they walked out to a packed AO Arena. Smith, a former WBO light-middleweight champion with 32 wins from 36 fights, made the better start and although Eubank Jr recovered, he was put down twice in the fourth before the referee stepped in to end the contest.
With the public slanging match done and the action finally under way, it was Liverpudlian Smith who made an early impact when landing a short right hand in the first round. Eubank Jr regrouped for the second, following up a jab with a couple of slick combinations as he looked to get back on level terms and then broke through with some uppercuts in the third round.
But when did the judges end the fight and what has been said? Here is all you need to know:
What round was the fight stopped?
The contest, though, was brought to a swift conclusion in the fourth round when Smith forced Eubank Jr into the corner and then sent him onto the canvas with a left uppercut and hook combination. Although Eubank Jr bravely got back to his feet, he was soon down again from another right-hand shot which prompted referee Victor Loughlin to step in and give Smith a fourth straight victory which puts him in prime position for a shot at a second world title.
What was said after the fight?
“I don’t know if it was one shot or an accumulation, but I told you all week,” Smith said on Sky Sports Box Office following his victory. “A lot got made of Chris’ great chin, I’ve got a great chin, but there’s many fighters with better chins who have been knocked out in the past.
“I told you all week, don’t be surprised, nobody can not be hurt.” Eubank Jr paid tribute to Smith’s victory, and looked to make amends for their heated pre-fight exchanges.
“Big congratulations to him. He caught me with a great shot,” Eubank Jr said. “The build-up was the build-up, it got a bit ugly at the end. I regretted that. I respect you, I respect your family, I always have.
“If the fans want to see a rematch, we can get it on at Anfield. Big respect, man.” He later tweeted: “Congratulations to Liam tonight, nice lil shot you caught me with there my boy. Felt like I could of kept going but referee is in charge & I respect his decision. We’ll get it on again soon.”
Build up to fight marred by controversy
Eubank Jr arrived at the weigh-in a day before his fight at the AO Arena in Manchester wearing a rainbow armband on Friday (20 January). It came following a nasty exchange with Smith the prior day at the pre-fight press conference in which he questioned Eubank Jr’s sexuality.
He kept the accessory on throughout a frosty and protracted staredown with Smith which passed off without incident after the pair had both scaled 11st 5lbs – one pound below the middleweight cut-off. Eubank Jr wrote on Twitter afterwards: “We don’t discriminate… we don’t alienate. We want boxing & sport as a whole, to be all inclusive.”
In a clip shared by Eubank Jr from the press conference on Thursday (19 January), Smith said: “Has anybody in this room ever seen you with a girl? Have you got something to tell us really, because you are 33, you said on the programme... when you have kids. This is for no laughs, do you want to tell us something?
“You are putting up pictures of Neymar and limousines, do you want to tell us something? ‘Cos no-one in this room has ever seen you with a woman.” Eubank Jr responded with unsubstantiated claims about Smith’s fidelity to his wife.
However the use of homophobia in the press conference has been criticised. Sky Sports issued an apology and while Eubank Jr and Smith have also apologised for their conduct, the matter may rumble on beyond this weekend as the British Boxing Board of Control said it is “considering the conduct” of the fighters.