Before the first bell of his rematch with Liam Smith, everything was on the line for Chris Eubank Jr. By the end of the fight that had all changed.
He was “cornered”, as he himself told Sky Sports earlier, with the future of his boxing career hanging in the balance going into the contest.
After bludgeoning Smith out of the bout after 10 ferocious rounds at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday night, all of a sudden Eubank was back at the top level, in a position where he could force his way into the mix with some of the biggest names in the sport.
Speaking to Sky Sports after his victory, he wasn’t picking out any one target for his next opponent.
“There’s no real ideal fight,” he told Sky Sports. “There’s so many great names out there.
“I would love to fight Golovkin and I would like to fight for a world title.
“But there’s great domestic names out there too.”
His promoter Kalle Sauerland acknowledged Eubank had a wealth of possibilities ahead of him.
“Everything’s possible,” he told Sky Sports. “We want to make the big fights and that’s what we’re going to be doing Monday. But right now we’re going to celebrate till the sun comes up.”
It was the most significant moment of Eubank’s career – defeating, in an immediate rematch, the first man to knock him out.
Having brought in Brian ‘BoMac’ McIntyre and a new training team just weeks out from this fight, it was an extraordinary vindication.
“He stayed focused,” Sauerland said. “He knew what he had to do.
“The biggest credit goes to Junior. He licked his wounds, he went off to a gruelling camp with many setbacks.”
But he also highlighted the nature of the performance. “I have so much respect for the Smith family,” Sauerland said. “Tonight was a bit of everything. It was like BoMac had managed to orchestrate the dots, connect them with lines. Fantastic, really amazing.
“It was the way BoMac organised everything. It was like everything came together at once.”
McIntyre himself was self-effacing after the contest was done.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the fighter,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m happy for him, his family, his team.
“Chris is a fighter. He knows what to do. You’ve just got to remind fighters like that of the things to do and what not to do.
“He followed the game plan to a tee, to stay off the ropes, to work behind the jab, combinations going to the body and it worked. He just did the things that he usually does.
“That uppercut we did work on, that jab. So it was great. I loved it.”
Few observers though, outside Eubank’s circle, had been tipping him to upset Smith.
“They doubted him and they doubted the will, they doubted my knowledge,” McIntyre said.
“He wanted the pressure. He liked the pressure. So he didn’t mind at all.
“He wanted to shut the doubters up so he did what he was supposed to do.”
McIntyre, renowned as the trainer of pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford, but who also will now be feted for salvaging Eubank’s career, believes the Brighton man has merited a place at the summit of the middleweight division.
“He should be the top three or four right now at 160lbs,” McIntyre said. “I’d like to see him get a title shot. He proved himself at 160lbs.
“He did a great job.”