We analyse the potential pathways for both Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr following their dramatic dust-up in Manchester
It was the ending no-one predicted.
The first minute of the fourth round and the lauded granite chin of Chris Eubank Jr was shattered when Liam Smith cornered him and comprehensively ended their grudge match in Manchester.
Such was the manner of the defeat does it make sense for the Brighton middleweight to exercise his rematch clause and face ‘Beefy’ once again?
The trajectory of both their careers are now pointing in different directions.
Questions are now being asked of Eubank’s future while Smith, who had campaigned at Super Welterweight, has now propelled himself to new heights after his most impressive win to date.
If a return bout fails to materialise who should Smith and Eubank Jr fight next?
We take a look at the options for both men...
Current Super Welterweight world rankings:
We take a look at four potential opponents that Smith could face later this year...
After Smith’s dismantling of Eubank, it proved conclusively that fighting at middleweight is no problem for the Liverpudlian.
He has always dreamed of fighting at Anfield so why not go after the biggest fight in the division.
Current IBF and WBA unified champion Golovkin may be entering the home straight of his career, but the people of Liverpool would flock to the home of Liverpool to see the local lad take on the modern-day great.
If Smith is given a top 10 middleweight ranking by the governing bodies in February then the fight becomes a strong possibility.
Noises continue to emanate from Sheffield that ‘The Special One’ will come out of retirement.
It has been nearly a year since Brook dominated Amir Khan to end their own rivalry and has made no secret he misses boxing.
However, while his trainer Dominic Ingle says he has no interest in the Smith fight, BOXXER and certainly Sky have proven they can make the unexpected happen.
Should Smith go back down to 154lbs then he may have to be patient for another world title shot.
Undisputed champion Jermell Charlo is side-lined with an injury and after his recovery is still set to face Tim Tszyu in his first fight of 2023.
Danny Garcia, a two-weight world champion, has the name and pedigree to excite Smith and his fans.
As for Eubank Jr he may have to endure a reality check for his next fight.
The 33-year-old has always been the “A-side” and while that may continue he may have to operate at a lower level next time out.
His career has always been one of calculated risk, but options may be thin on the ground if he refuses the Smith rematch.
Unbeaten Felix Cash has made no secret he would love to face Eubank while veteran Sergio Martinez could be the exact big name, low risk fight that would suit him.
Former Golovkin foe Ryota Murata would be a credible test for Eubank but may have to take place in the Japanese middleweight’s back yard.
On Saturday night there were also wins for Richard Riakporhe and Frazer Clarke.
Riakporhe demonstrated his raw cruiserweight power ending the hopes of veteran former world champion Krzysztof Glowacki in four rounds.
2023 could be well be world title year for Riakporhe who, along with compatriot Chris Billam-Smith, are on the cusp of a maiden shot.
Current IBF champion Jai Opetaia or WBC titlist Ilunga Makabu look like being a route for Riakporhe. Should both Brits land a world title each then a rematch, and unification, could very well be on the cards this year or next.
Clarke had little problem making it five wins from five when he stopped Argentina’s Kevin Nicolas Espindola in round four.
And despite being in the infancy stage of his career the former Team GB captain has to move on to better tests quickly because of his age and amateur background.
His promoter Ben Shalom has spoke of a British title shot in 10 fights, but would facing champion Fabio Wardley be too much, too soon?
Nathan Gorman, who Wardley impressively beat to win the Lonsdale belt, could be the ideal test for to gauge Clarke’s credentials.