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Chris Eubank Jr v Liam Smith: Rob Tebbutt's fight preview

Our resident boxing expert Rob Tebbutt previews this weekend's huge night of fighting action in Manchester; headlined by the all-British middleweight affair.

British boxing is back!

… And what a way to start 2023, with Chris Eubank Jr (4/11) and Liam Smith (11/5) facing off in their bad blood middleweight encounter in Manchester.

The fight brings together two stalwarts of the British scene and in many ways, two of the last men standing from their respective eras on these shores.

For Eubank Jr, Saturday is an opportunity to remind the boxing public of his top drawer capabilities. 

A decision win over Liam Williams last February was his only in-ring appearance of 2022 and he enters 2023 in the familiar position of being within touching distance of the middleweight division’s biggest names. 

In Smith, he faces a battle-hardened, experienced fighter who will not be intimidated or ruffled by Eubank’s showmanship. 

Regardless of Eubank’s wild pre-fight proclamations and KFC attire, he’ll know that he’s in for a serious test on Saturday night.

For Liam Smith, Saturday represents the latest risk in a storied career that has seen him face the best in the sport from all corners of the globe. 

From Canelo Alvarez in Texas, to Jessie Vargas in New York and Magomed Kurbanov in the depths of Russia: Smith has always delivered high quality entertainment for fans and enters the contest against Eubank in a rich vein of form.

With successive wins over Hassan Mwakinyo, Anthony Fowler and Jessie Vargas in the last 18-months, ‘Beefy’ has his eyes fixed on becoming a two-weight world champion. 

Though a bout against Eubank Jr doesn’t quite get him to that goal just yet, a win on Saturday night puts the Liverpudlian firmly in the shop window.

It is a fight that pits two polar opposites against one another.

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Eubank Jr, the ostentatious showman who revels in the ‘bad guy’ role, against the unflappable, working-class hero Smith. 

Even in the ring, Eubank Jr’s flashy style is the perfect foil for the gritty, rugged Smith. They are in many ways, the perfect foil for each other.

Elsewhere on the undercard, Richard Riakporhe (1/12) looks to continue his march to world title glory against the seasoned southpaw, former WBO champion Krzysztof Glowacki (6/1).

Riakporhe has been one of the major success stories since signing with BOXXER, and is within touching distance of his first crack at world honours or a potential rematch with domestic rival Chris Billam-Smith.

The hard-hitting Londoner will have to be on his A game against a vastly more experienced campaigner in Glowacki, and will have no room for complacency if he is to extend his unbeaten record.

British and Commonwealth welterweight champion Ekow Essuman (8/11) also returnS to the ring, squaring off against Chris ‘2Slick’ Kongo (1/1) in a fight that has the potential to steal the show.

Both men came through the same amateur set-up at Team GB and will be more than familiar with each other. Again, another excellent clash of styles, with the relentless work-rate of ‘The Engine’ Essuman contrasted with the slick, silky skills of the Ben Davison-trained Kongo. 

Finally, the return of heavyweight hopeful Frazer Clarke (1/50), as he makes his first outing of 2023 against Argentina’s Kevin Espindola (14/1).

‘Big Fraze’ has struggled for activity so far in his short professional career, but after going the distance with notorious heavyweight hard-nut Kamil Sokolowski last time out, HE will be looking to make a statement against what seems to be a rather overmatched opponent.

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