Liam Smith ‘downloads data’ like Vasiliy Lomachenko | ‘Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!’


Expert observers break down the mental, physical and tactical aspects of the Liam Smith vs Chris Eubank Jr rematch; Smith takes on Eubank Jr a second time this Saturday at the AO Arena in Manchester, live on Sky Sports Box Office

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

We asked expert observers, of the sport and the two fighters, to break down the tactical, physical and mental aspects that will be at play in the second fight between Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr.

Repeat or revenge is the question that’s being asked this week. If the rematch between Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr follows the same pattern as their first fight, the former will be well pleased.

When they boxed in January, Smith finished his rival in just four rounds. Even Eubank Jr acknowledges he must change if he is to avoid that outcome.

    Book Smith vs Eubank Jr 2 now!Booking info: Smith vs Eubank Jr 2

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

His preparation for a start is different for the rematch, which will be live on Sky Sports Box Office this Saturday.

Eubank Jr has spent his training camp in Las Vegas for this fight and has joined up with Brian “BoMac” McIntyre, the trainer of pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford.

His promoter Kalle Sauerland has observed him in training. “He looked terrific. He looks even better now. He’s got an extremely professional set-up there, the corner’s going to be a very traditional corner, which he’s never really had before,” Sauerland told Sky Sports.

“‘BoMac’ comes with a whole team,” he explained. “Probably the first time since his short spell with Adam Booth that he’s really had that set-up.

“It’s not about going back and learning the ropes from day one. It’s about having that set-up in the camp and in the build-up to the fight.”

Where can Chris Eubank Jr win the fight?

Most crucially, if Eubank Jr is to win, he needs new tactics and for his trainer to equip him with a new game plan that he adheres to, even under the most extreme pressure.

Former world title challenger and boxing expert Matthew Macklin told Sky Sports: “I think if he tries to outbox Liam from a long-range point of view, like he did the first time a little bit, I think that’d be a mistake.

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

“I think Eubank’s a better fighter than he is boxer. Liam is very crafty, a very intelligent fighter. I think Eubank’s best chance is to make physicality count for him in his fight. He’s naturally the bigger guy.

“He’s always had great athleticism and stamina. I think he should make those things count in this fight. I don’t think he’s going to outsmart Liam. I think maybe he can out-physical him.

“If you look at advantages of where he should have an edge over Liam, it’s his physicality.”

Backing up, even to make use of his longer reach, was a mistake.

“He’s boxing at range and Liam’s got the momentum coming forward, [Eubank] is getting caught at the end of the shots. You’re getting hit with a lot of power,” Macklin explained.

“When you’re up close, you’re kind of safe really. Keep your elbows tucked in, he’s in a relatively safe place.”

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

Sauerland certainly expects to see Eubank Jr on the front foot.

“I think he’s got to go in there and do a number on him. He’s got to put it on him. I think anyone who knows Junior that’s what he does, he throws bunches [of punches] We’re not going to see a fight that takes a while to warm up on Saturday night, this is going to be cooking from the time they walk into that ring,” he said.

That he thinks will drag Smith into the kind of fight Eubank needs to have.

“Smith will think that he can get him out of there in the same fashion again. Why not? Why wouldn’t he think that?” Sauerland said.

“It’s about Junior boxing his style and putting it on him.”

Does Liam Smith need to adapt?

Smith is a seasoned professional. It’s hard to see complacency being an issue for him. But Eubank could surprise him.

“You’ve got to try and be mentally prepared for different outcomes in a fight,” Macklin said. “I think if Eubank came out and dug his heels in, planted his feet and just had a trade-off straight away, literally went down, let’s go to war, I think that might be a little bit of a surprise.

“They [Smith’s team] probably think: I’ll get to it by walking down, I’ll break him down, by round, body shots, conserve energy, make him work.

“But I think if Eubank comes out, sets a hot pace, makes it a physical fight from the absolute get-go, then I think that might mentally take you by surprise if you weren’t expecting it.”

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

George Groves, the former world champion who’s beaten Eubank Jr, reflected: “No one in the industry predicted Liam Smith would go through Eubank the way he did. As soon as he had success he wiped Eubank out.

“The question automatically arises – what went wrong for Eubank?” he continued.

“Usually when a rematch comes up you go back and you really want to assess the first fight, what went wrong. It’s hard to put a finger on it. Because no one’s ever done that to Eubank before. He’s always been known for having a really good chin, fantastic engine, good hand speed. You wonder did he get camp wrong? Was he not right?

“Or did Smith just land that perfect shot that just made Eubank completely unravel?”

If Eubank Jr is different for the rematch, as he’s capable of being, Smith is also a fighter who can adjust.

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

Joe Gallagher, the Liverpudlian’s former trainer, said: “People give a lot of credit to [Vasiliy] Lomachenko for downloading data but all the time Liam Smith’s in that ring with you, mentally, psychologically he’s downloading data. Watching what you’re doing. How you react to stuff.”

He showed in the first fight just how well he can use that information.

Who does the weight favour?

Eubank Jr is the bigger man. Liam Smith was essentially a career super-welter stepping up to 160lbs for their first fight.

In contrast, Eubank Jr was the established middleweight, who’d previously fought as high as super-middle.

The division then ought to be advantageous to Eubank Jr.

But Shane McGuigan, the coach who trained Groves to beat him, doesn’t see it that way. He thinks 160lbs “is an unnatural weight for a guy who’s 33 years of age late on in his career. It favours a man who’s comfortable at the weight”.

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

“Holding a shot always favours when you’ve got more thickness around you,” McGuigan continued. “Boiling yourself down, getting your body back down late in your career, your punch resistance goes.

“I think he’s too big for the weight. I think he needs to go to 168lbs.”

How each man looks on the scales on Friday will be an indication of how they’ve made the weight – another crucial factor when it comes to the fight itself.

Will the first fight affect their mindset?

The most telling element might well be the mental side of this contest.

“At the top level it’s always about mental and physical. Boxing has that emotional element as well because you are combatants punching each other,” Groves said.

“I think Eubank at times has just shied away from the mental aspect. He’s always been very mentally resilient. He’s always tried to come across at least as very mentally strong.

“As you do get older, I was guilty of it as well, you lower your guard and you give away [more].”

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

Eubank Jr has lost before, but in his previous defeats, he has been able to harness different elements for psychological comfort. Against Billy Joe Saunders he could look at how he performed in the second half of the bout, against Groves how he finished the fight.

But McGuigan noted: “Really he can’t reflect on anything from that first fight with confidence.

“Liam Smith who’s comfortable, not losing, but being up against it,” McGuigan continued. “He’s boxed someone like [Jaime] Munguia and Canelo and bounced back and still had that pure venom in him and that desire to continue to fight.

“These are questions that [Eubank] is going to have to try and answer.”

He hasn’t had long either to build trust with his new corner team. “Now he’s got to put his whole career in this guy’s hands to a certain degree. That pressure’s on,” Groves said.

Liam Smith 'downloads data' like Vasiliy Lomachenko | 'Chris Eubank Jr will put it on him!'

From his two fights with Carl Froch, Groves knows it’s hard to train for the same opponent in consecutive fights, even if, like Smith, you are supremely confident after the first bout.

“Preparing for the same guy is tough. It’s mentally taxing because you might be going through the same stuff you’ve been going through again and again. You might be questioning what did I do right or wrong the last time,” he said.

“Neither can afford a slip-up,” Groves said. “The same for Smith at this stage of his career, he can’t really afford a loss.”

One thing they do have in common is that a defeat now, for either man, would be a disaster. That type of pressure can make any fighter, victor or vanquished, Smith or Eubank Jr, change too.

Liam Smith vs Chris Eubank Jr II is live on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday. Book it now


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