Chris Eubank Jr. insists it was his intention to draw out Saturday’s unanimous points win against Liam Williams to make it last the full 12 rounds rather than finish it early — but his reasoning seems a little spurious.
Eubank made a commanding start and looked destined for a stoppage win after flooring Williams for the third time in round four. Two of the knockdowns had been from jabs and Eubank’s array of punches was overwhelming the Welshman in front of his home fans at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff.
But Eubank (32-2, 23 KOs), 32, from Brighton, who is trained by four-weight world champion Roy Jones Junior, then eased off in his intensity, allowing the fight to become more competitive until a fourth knockdown in the 11thround.
Why did the English boxer let Williams escape from the brink of defeat in round four? He reckons it was so he could inflict more “punishment”.
“People always tell me I can’t box, all I can do is come forward and I have no jab,” Eubank told Sky Sports after the 116-109, 116-108, and 117-109 points win.
“I thought, let me show the critics a different side to Chris Eubank with a bit of Roy Jones sauce added to it, get the fans excited.
“There was no danger. If I stepped on the gas he would have been done but he needed to be taught a lesson and I didn’t want to give him the easy way out.
“I wanted to let him know that there are levels to the game and don’t go out there being a big mouth to guys who you can get hurt against. He thought he was something, he wasn’t.
“I wanted to teach this man a lesson. He said some very menacing things to me leading up to this fight and I wanted to punish him. I actually thought about it before I got in the ring: ‘I don’t even want to knock this guy out in the first round’.
“You saw the fight: headbutts, headlocks, all types of crazy stuff. I’m surprised he didn’t get disqualified. I punished him like I said I was going to do. It was a fun night.”
But rather than it being an explanation why Williams (23-4, 18 KOs), 29, was able to go 12 rounds, it seemed like a bit of an excuse from Eubank for failing to produce a KO. Williams was allowed to recover and attack Eubank from rounds five and six, knocking Eubank out of his rhythm.
However, this was still a dominant performance that Eubank should be pleased with and secures his position among the world’s best five or six middleweights.
Eubank, whose father Chris Sr was world champion at middleweight and super middleweight in the 1990s, wants to face the division’s former No 1 Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin more than any other opponent. IBF world middleweight champion Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs), 39, from Kazakhstan and now based in California, had been scheduled to face WBA titleholder Ryota Murata (16-2, 13 KOs), from Japan, in December but the fight was cancelled and both have yet to confirm who they will fight next.
That leaves Eubank waiting to see what his next move will be and an uncertain path ahead. The English boxer told ESPN he wants to face the former division’s No. 1 at The Amex Stadium, the home of English Premier League soccer team Bright and Hove Albion. But that seems unlikely for this summer as Golovkin has other options.
There is the possibility that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the sport’s biggest star and money generator, will also opt to face GGG in a trilogy fight.
Golovkin also seems slightly underwhelmed by the prospect of facing Eubank. Last week he was reported as calling Eubank’s challenge to fight him as “cheap.”
But Eubank is unlikely to be frozen out as he is No. 1 challenger to Murata, who has not fought since December 2019. Eubank is also No. 3 in the WBC rankings and deserves a shot this year after impressively dealing with Williams, who took WBO world middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade to points in April after the Welshman recovered from a second round knockdown.
If Eubank is not sure about getting a big next, there is more hope that Claressa Shields will be involved in the biggest fight of her boxing career later this year after she won for the 12th time on the undercard in Wales. The three-weight world champion returned to the boxing ring after two MMA performances last year with a dominant points win over Ema Kozin to retain her WBC, WBA and IBF world middleweight titles. Afterwards, the double Olympic gold medallist clashed with England’s Savannah Marshall, who holds the other (WBO) world middleweight title.
Marshall, from Hartlepool, told Shields, from Flint, Michigan: “If you perform like that against me, I’ll absolutely wipe the floor with you.”
Shields replied: “You couldn’t wipe my draws.”
Promoters are rubbing their hands at the prospect of another huge fight for women’s professional boxing. Marshall defends her title on March 12 and, as long as she wins, the plan is then to match the rival champions next summer.