Liam Smith believes Chris Eubank Jr was “terrified” during their first fight and that left him open to the knockout.
There was a moment in their press conference on Tuesday – to announce their June 17 rematch on Sky Sports Box Office – when Liam Smith caught Chris Eubank Jr off guard.
He asked Eubank if he had been knocked out in sparring ahead of their first fight in January. Eubank dismissed the claim out of hand. But there was a reason Smith asked.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d been knocked out beforehand in sparring because he was terrified of getting hit,” Smith told Sky Sports.
There is something professional boxers are trained to identify and to exploit. They will look for fear. If they see nerves or hesitation, the kind of doubt that can compromise action and performance, they will take that advantage.
That is precisely what Smith did in their first fight. He saw an opportunity and took it.
“Round one, I remember being close to him and he’s holding me and I’m just thinking you’re terrified,” Smith said.
“You are terrified of getting hit. You watch every replay and he’s not even moving his head [properly]. He’s closing his eyes. He’s getting his head out the way.”
Smith continued: “He was petrified of getting hit, he was looking away. That’s why the first shot wobbled him. Because he’s not looking.
“He was looking at the floor and the first right hand hits him and goes right to his boots. I’m not going to sit and lie about it. I’m not going to sit and say, ‘Oh it was a great shot’.”
Smith thought he sensed an unfamiliar reticence in Eubank Jr the day before their fight.
“Once we weighed in, once we had a little bit of a conversation after the weigh in, he went quiet and I just thought, ‘Woah, he’s swallowed it there’,” Smith said.
“That’s what I thought.
“He’s never shy of words Chris, and I said a couple of things and he never replied. And I just thought that’s not like you.”
It was Smith who had moved to middleweight, the division where Eubank Jr was more established. But he found Eubank reluctant to use that size and expected strength.
“He was on the back foot trying to box the way I thought he would,” Smith said. “He was the big middleweight on the back foot but holding me every time I got near him. He was the ‘bigger, stronger fighter’ but didn’t want to engage.”
He believes that then he saw fear.
“It’s a cliche but boxers we’re not scared of getting hit. I don’t mind taking one early doors because I think [either] yeah, right, I’m fine with that or I can’t take many more of them, he can punch, solid,” Smith said.
“He was terrified,” Smith added. “Whether it was because he hadn’t been in the ring a long time, I don’t know but I thought he was terrified getting hit.
“He makes too many mistakes doing that and he paid for them and he paid for them earlier than he should have.”
Source : https://www.skysports.com/boxing/news/12040/12866735/liam-smith-chris-eubank-jr-was-petrified-of-getting-hit-from-round-one?rand=3094