Chris Eubank Jr proved he is at world level with his emphatic stoppage victory over Liam Smith, says Natasha Jonas.
The 33-year-old gained sweet revenge in Manchester on Saturday night as he stopped Smith in the 10th round having suffered a fourth-round stoppage in the pair’s initial fight back in January.
Eubank dominated the fight from the very first bell, flooring Smith with a thumping uppercut in the fourth before controlling the contest behind the jab and launching a decisive assault late on to finish his opponent.
It delayed uncomfortable questions over the future of Eubank on what had been billed as a defining night in his career, with victory now setting him up for further marquee fights.
Sky Sports Boxing’s panel of George Groves, Natasha Jonas and Johnny Nelson weighed in on the enormity of Eubank Jr’s career win…
Groves: Eubank’s perfect night
“If you’re fighting Chris Eubank, that’s what you’re worried about, his mental strength, resilience and confidence. At times it’s wavered and at times I wondered if he still had it.
“I used to see him in the gym and he was like a beast, it’s all compliments, something I respected and it was something I still wondered, is he still that guy?
“He had to do it. This has to be his perfect moment. For him it will never get better than tonight.
“It was a calm, measured performance, he had great variety to the jab, there was nothing reckless like the first fight, there was no desperation, he never looked out of control. They (his new team) got through to him.
“Early on he was happy to hold, he’s not that sort of fighter but he knew if he could nullify Smith early that was the way to go.”
Jonas: Smith won’t make excuses over ankle
“All the clicking of the ankle thing, that’s something Liam does, he does it all the time. He overextends all the time, he’s got a bad habit of clicking, he’s not made any excuses, I’m not making excuses for him.
“Chris went out there, stuck to the plan and won the fight. Potentially the injuries had an impact [on Smith], when you’ve got issues with your back it’s hard to do some things, it impacts everything. He said he struggled to get three stone off.
“What will hurt Liam is Eubank Jr did to him what he did to Eubank Jr in the first fight. He was jabbing and jabbing and jabbing and then next minute he brings up the uppercut and it lands.
“Liam will be mortified, he’ll be devastated. Knowing who he is, he’ll be wanting the rematch. I think he’d want to put that right.
“A lot of the questions were ‘is Eubank world level?’. I believe Liam Smith is one of the best fighters in this country, he’s world level, so that answers the question because he’s just beaten one.”
Nelson: Eubank out-boxed Smith
“Liam will be absolutely devastated losing that tonight. Chris out-boxed him, out-timed him, got the shot right, used the uppercut and when he finally got it Liam dropped. Chris was constantly trying to catch him and Liam just ducked into it.
“The tactics from Chris were perfect. Injuries, the ankle or whatever, the boxing Chris produced out-boxed the boxing Liam produced. Everything Chris threw, it was like he was one step ahead.
“We wrote him off and said there’s nothing he can do to make us think he’d turn this around.
“The first one was a demolition that Liam gave Chris. This was a beat-down, Chris beat him in every department.”