While boxing is in a bit of a lull between major fights, the game continued to roll over the weekend with two significant fights of note.
At middleweight, a rematch between consensus top ten battlers produced a sequel very different from the original. In January, Liam Smith dropped Chris Eubank twice in round four to score a career best stoppage win. The dramatic scene featured a legless Eubank stumbling forward after the second knockdown and the official ruling that he was done, trying his best to keep the fight going even after his fate for the night was sealed.
That fighting spirit was channeled into the rematch last Saturday.
Eubank turned the tables as completely as could be. Throwing five and six times as many punches as a listless Smith, Eubank used his jab and length to dominate the event. Smith, according to Compubox, never threw more than twenty punches in a round and never landed in double digits. This time it was Eubank with two knockdowns and a stoppage in ten to keep his hopes alive in a middleweight division that is as wide open as it's been in more than a generation.
At bantamweight, we got a coronation.
29-year old Dina Thorslund kept her undefeated record and laid claim to the lineal throne of her division in a fight that featured the number one and two bantamweights in the world according to The Ring and LinealBoxingChampion.com. The order didn’t match between the two bodies with the vote split between Thorslund and Yuliahn Luna.
Agreement is clear after Thorslund’s dominant win. Pressing the action for all ten rounds, Thorslund won seven, eight, and nine rounds on the three judge’s scorecards. She entered with the WBO belt, left with Luna’s WBC strap, and while she can still pursue undisputed, she is the clear leader of her class until someone proves otherwise. Thorslund is the twelfth lineal women’s champion crowned in sixteen active weight classes as the women’s side of the sport continues its golden age.
Their divisions may not have the depth of the men’s side, but their best continue to seemingly do everything they can to stand out and expand their horizons. It’s fun to follow.
What’s next for each of these big winners?
Futures: For Thorslund, the question is whether she can now finish collecting all the belts in her division. The IBF belt is held by Ebanie Bridges, a fighter as known for her social media presence as her boxing acumen. Bridges has marketed herself well as she continues to hone her craft and would be likely the fight that could garner Thorslund the most attention. The WBA titlist Nina Hughes looks solid but at 41 is twelve years Thorslund’s senior. Bridges-Hughes could happen first to set up an undisputed showdown but Thorlsund has made clear she wants those other straps.
For Eubank, his name value has always been there and this, arguably his biggest professional win, will keep doors open. Usually after a pair of knockouts are exchanged, a third fight might be in order but Smith looked so bad this past weekend it’s likely a hard sell. A previously canceled fight with Conor Benn could always reemerge despite the charade that has been the fallout from Benn’s failed PED test.
Middleweight is a mess right now. Gennadiy Golovkin appears to be retired after vacating two belts, though that’s not ever been made official. Jermall Charlo hasn’t fought in more than two years and the WBC appears to be fine leaving him as champion in absentia while Carlos Adames does the work in the ring as interim titlist. Erislandy Lara was elevated from secondary to primary WBA titlist but the aging Cuban has been out of the ring for more than a year. Wasn’t he rumored to be fighting Danny Garcia? Nothing has developed on that front.
That leaves the Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (WBO) versus Vincenzo Gualtieri (IBF) unification in October as the best middleweight has to offer right now and that’s not setting the world ablaze. Middleweight is both in rough shape and ripe to be a land of opportunity. Eubank would be an attractive opponent for almost anyone and fits right into this mix.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com