Chris Eubank Jr vs. Liam Smith could be WBC 160-lb eliminator
By Jack Tiernan: Promoter Kalle Sauerland says he likes the idea of the Chris Eubank Jr vs. Liam Smith contest being a WBC middleweight title eliminator on January 21st in their domestic-level showdown at the AO Arena in Manchester, England.
Eubank Jr (32-2, 23 KOs) is ranked #2 with the WBC at 160, which puts him on the doorstep of a title shot against inactive champion Jermall Charlo.
It’s unclear what the status is of WBC middleweight champion Charlo because he’s going on two years of inactivity, and his WBC title has been defended all this time. The World Boxing Council needs to strip him or give him a ‘Champion in Recess’ tag and allow Eubank Jr to fight Liam for the vacant WBC 160-lb belt.
When or if Charlo returns to the ring, he can always fight the Eubank Jr-Smith winner. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening, but you never know.
Charlo’s chances of winning a belt at 168 are zero, given his inactivity, advancing age, and how poor he looked in his last fight against Juan Macias Montiel in July 2021. In other words, Charlo might return to claim his WBC 160-lb belt at some point.
“We welcome it; we wouldn’t say no,” promoter Kalle Sauerland said Sky Sports about the Chris Eubank Jr vs. Liam Smith fight to be a WBC middleweight title eliminator on January 21st.
“Let’s face it; Junior is the undisputed star of the division at the moment.”
I wouldn’t get too exuberant if I were Sauerland about Eubank Jr being the “undisputed start” at 160 because the division is dead, dead, and dead.
The 40-year-old IBF/WBA middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin rarely fights anymore, and the same goes for Jermall Charlo.
Fighters like Jaime Munguia, who could be a star, are still cherry-picking weak opposition after a decade in the professional ranks, and he doesn’t appear ever to take any risky fights that could increase his popularity.
Eubank Jr has fought nobody really during his career other than George Groves and lost to him in 2018. The 33-year-old Eubank Jr could be a star, but due to his weak match-making, the rarity of his fights, and complete lack of ambition, he’s greatly stunted his opportunities to become a superstar fighter.
Eubank Jr’s last eight opponents:
- Liam Williams
- Wanik Awdijan
- Marcus Morrison
- Matt Korobov
- James DeGale
- JJ McDonagh
- George Groves
- Avni Yildirim
The 34-year-old Liam (32-3-1, 19 KOs), however, isn’t ranked in the 160-lb division, as he fights at 154 and never fought at 160 during his long 15-year professional career.
Obviously, it wouldn’t make the 160-lb contenders & their promoters happy to see Eubank Jr fighting a junior middleweight contender in a WBC 160-lb title eliminator.
Eubank Jr-Smith will be streamed live on DAZN in Canada, DACH [Australia, Germany & Switzerland], Japan, and the United States.
“Whilst I like the idea of it being an eliminator and the WBC involved, I’m also a realist, and this is a blockbuster by itself,” said Sauerland about a title eliminator at 160 between Eubank Jr and Smith.
It’s two huge traditional families in UK boxing, and you’ve got both of them in arguably the toughest fights of their careers. What more do I want?”
“This has got all the spice and trimmings already if that comes along – amazing. But this is a throwback fight.”
Liam Smith and his brother Callum are going nowhere in their respective divisions. Callum Smith will be fighting WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev at some point, and he’s expected to lose that fight.
Liam will never win another world title at 154 after losing his WBO belt to Canelo Alvarez in 2016. Smith is 34 years old, and he’s not capable of beating undisputed champion Jermell Charlo at 154 or any of the top contenders like Tim Tszyu, Sebastian Fundora or Tony Harrison, in this writer’s view.
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