Chris Eubank Jr. was so disoriented Saturday night that he attempted to fight Liam Smith even after referee Victor Loughlin stopped the action during the fourth round.
Smith’s trainer, Joe McNally, pulled Eubank away from Smith before he could throw a punch several seconds after Loughlin declared Smith the winner by technical knockout at 1:09 of the fourth round. Eubank was knocked down twice and appeared utterly unfit to continue in their 12-round middleweight match, but he told Sky Sports during a post-fight interview in his locker room that he was ready to keep fighting in this Sky Sports Box Office main event at a sold-out AO Arena in Manchester, England.
“A tough night? No, I wouldn’t even say that,” Eubank said while he pressed an ice pack on the huge knot near his right eye. “I was having fun, I was landing my shots, I was enjoying the moment. And he caught me with a, you know, once-in-a-lifetime shot. You know, I got up, I recovered, you know, he put it on me again, a few more shots, and the referee decided that it was enough.
“I felt like I could go on. I felt like I was aware of what was happening. But it is the referee’s decision. I have to respect it. I felt like I was dominating the fight before that happened, so I think we’ve got an exciting opportunity to, you know, at some point in the future, have that rematch.”
There is a rematch clause in their contracts, which Eubank indicated he will exercise. Eubank (32-3, 23 KOs), who was a 3-1 favorite, commended Smith (33-3-1, 20 KOs) for his impressive victory, yet he recalled a slip to the canvas causing the second knockdown for which Smith was credited during the fourth round.
Smith blasted Eubank with a left uppercut and then a left hook that first floored him 45 seconds into the fourth round. A dazed Eubank got to his feet quickly, but he couldn’t stand up straight.
Eubank tried to hold Smith, whose short right hand on the inside seemed to initiate Eubank’s second trip to the canvas. Loughlin stopped their fight after Eubank went down for the second time.
“What did my team say? I don’t really remember,” Eubank said. “It’s hard to hear when everything’s going on. All you’ve got is the referee counting in your face. And obviously, he counted to [eight] and then he kind of, Liam came at me again, threw a bunch more punches, I slipped and then the referee stopped it.”
Brighton’s Eubank, 33, lost by knockout for the first time in 35 professional fights. His only previous losses were a 12-round split decision to former WBO middleweight champ Billy Joe Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) in November 2014 and a 12-round unanimous decision to ex-WBA super middleweight champ George Groves (28-4, 20 KOs) in February 2018.
Liverpool’s Smith, 34, produced perhaps the biggest win of his 14-year professional career, which includes capturing the WBO junior middleweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.