Liam Smith is licking his chops at the way Chris Eubank Jr. has been performing inside the ring lately.

The longtime 154-pound contender will take on Eubank Jr. in a middleweight bout Jan. 21 at the AO Arena in Manchester, England. The announcement comes more than a month after Eubank’s scheduled 157-pound catchweight fight with Conor Benn was cancelled upon the revelation that Benn had tested positive for a banned substance. Benn is currently being investigated by the British Boxing Board of Control and UK-Anti Doping.

In recent years, Eubank has fought under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Roy Jones Jr. It has been pointed out that Eubank, known as a come-forward type of fighter, has seemingly employed a bit more finesse in his ring strategy in recent fights, which some say is the influence of Jones. Eubank’s last fight against Liam Williams in February saw Eubank refrain from pursuing an aggressive stance through large stretches of the middle rounds, despite winning in dominant fashion. 

Smith, 34, feels that it will bode badly for Eubank (32-2, 23 KOs) if he decides to approach their upcoming fight in a similar manner. But even if Eubank, 33, resorts to his trademark style, Smith, a banger himself, feels he will still have the upper hand.

“The emphasis is going to be on Chris trying to box the way Roy's got him boxing,” Smith said. “I feel like I capitalize on that all day. [Then] he can only revert to what he likes and what he knows and that's to come and have a fight.

“I think the fight can only revert to that and then once it reverts to that, it's going to catch fire and I'll welcome it with open arms.”

Smith (32-3-1, 19 KOs) is coming off a fourth-round stoppage of Hassan Mwakinyo in September at Echo Arena in his hometown of Liverpool, England. Smith has stopped his last three opponents, which includes Jesse Vargas and Anthony Fowler. He has losses to Jaime Munguia and Canelo Alvarez.

“With 10 ounce gloves on, I land the right shot on anyone's chin, I'm confident I can hurt anybody," Smith said. "Chris Eubank Jr's no different. He's got a good chin but anybody can be knocked out.”

“There's nothing better than a domestic rivalry and a domestic dust up,” Smith added. “When you get two big names, there's nothing better than the build-up towards it.”