By Scott Gilfoid: George Groves believes Chris Eubank Jr can stop Liam Smith if he targets his body on Saturday night and focuses on combination punching in their headliner at the AO Arena in Manchester, England.
Eubank Jr (32-2, 23 KOs), unless he’s grown old overnight since his one-sided unanimous decision win over Liam Williams last February, should make easy work of the over-matched, aging 34-year-old Smith.
Canelo Alvarez focused on throwing body shots in his ninth round knockout win over a much younger Liam Smith in September 2016 at the AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. On two occasions, Canelo knocked Smith down with left hooks to the midsection.
The final one in the ninth had Liam writhing with pain on the canvas, with his face showing pure agony from the pain wracking his body. That fight showed Smith’s vulnerabilities as a fighter.
While he’s got a head like a brick wall, his body is as soft as marshmallows and might as well have a ‘Punch here’ sign printed on it. If Eubank Jr targets that area, he can’t help but stop Liam on Saturday night.
The 34-year-old gray-haired Smith (32-3-1, 19 KOs) isn’t a big puncher, and he’s not faced anyone of quality since his loss to Jaime Munguia in 2018, a fight which he lost after getting worn down from the volume, power and body shots from the heavy-handed Mexican warrior.
In 2021, Smith was outboxed by the clean-landing Magomed Kurbanov, losing a close 12 round decision in Russia. While some boxing fans saw it as a hometown decision for Kurbanov, it looked like a clear win on his part. Smith was picked apart by Kurbanov and repeatedly beaten to the punch.
“He’s not in the company of losing; he’s not in the mindset of losing,” said George Groves to Sky Sports about Chris Eubank Jr’s thinking process heading into Saturday’s fight with Liam Smith.
“If he punches with spite and volume, he might even stop Liam Smith, who has been stopped before by Canelo Alvarez who is obviously a pound-for-pound fighter. But he can be hurt, he can be hurt to the body.
“If Eubank targets the body, I think he might stop him,” said Groves about Eubank Jr potentially stopping Liam if he targets his vulnerable body, which is what Canelo Alvarez did when he stopped him in 2016.
“It’ll be tough to come back from. But if he still feels young and fresh enough, he could do it. It might not be the be-all and end-all where he’d walk away from the game. But it’ll be pretty tough.”