Trainer Joe McNally contends Liam Smith was coerced into fighting Chris Eubank Jr. on a date that was clearly disadvantageous to his client.
Last Saturday night in Manchester, England, Eubank stopped Smith in 10 dominant rounds in their middleweight rematch to turn back the result of their first meeting, in January, when Smith, in a huge upset, stopped Eubank in four rounds.
After Saturday’s fight, Smith blamed his loss—and lackluster performance—on the more than 40 pounds he needed to lose to prepare for the rematch, a situation that had been exacerbated by a back injury that Smith suffered in the summer.
Smith-Eubank II was originally scheduled for June 17, but it was postponed to July 1, on account of Smith's injury. It was postponed again, however, and eventually set for Sept. 2.
According to McNally, he had advised Smith to not fight on Sept 2., saying his charge would not be physically ready by that time. McNally also expressed his disappointment with the organizers of the fight, Boxxer, Smith's promoter, for not striving harder to protect Smith.
“This is a fact, my own self, as his coach, said, ‘Son, there’s no way you can fight this date. You’re too heavy,'” McNally told Boxing News+. “You’re gonna need at least eight to 10 weeks to get the weight off. On the consensus that his back wasn’t 100% to do his road work, to put the work in to get the weight off to start camp. It’s a bit harsh. His weight was good until the injury. [Smith said], ‘No, I’ll do it, I’ll do it, I’ll do it.’
"And he literally had to be in—I ran the numbers eight weeks out with the nutritionist—he had to be in a 15,000-calorie deficiency a week. One thing in life that don’t lie is numbers. And sometimes, theoretically, that can be contradictory because of the autonomy of the human body, but he had to be in a major calorific deficiency the whole of the camp and fight week even worse. We had check weight testings, two or three of them, and he hit the goals. But he hit the goals and [was] f-----. Not hitting the goals and being full of beans. He hit the goals and he was shattered. On fight night, only people with two glass eyes couldn’t see that he was f-----. I asked for the fight to be moved. I’m just disappointed in the people behind the promotions and sh!t like that obviously didn’t listen, and the threats that came to Liam.”
Asked why there was not a concerted effort to reschedule the fight once more, given Smith's injury, McNally claimed Eubank and his promoter, Kalle and Nisse Sauerland of Wasserman Boxing, were threatening to pivot to a Conor Benn fight if Smith did not agree to the Sept. 2 date. (Indeed, there were reports that Eubank was seriously considering a fight with Benn while he was in discussions with Smith. Moreover, Eddie Hearn, Benn’s promoter, suggested in several interviews that he believed a Eubank-Benn fight was likely.) McNally also claimed that Smith, as well as Boxxer and Sky, the broadcaster of the fight, were under threat of being sued by Team Eubank.
“I said to Liam, you can’t fight this date,” McNally said. “Look, the facts that I got is, well, if I don’t accept this date, Chris is gone. I’ve lost the fight. Then he’s left in limbo, which the fight he got threatened with is Chris is gonna fight Conor Benn. But that fight was never going to happen anytime soon because obviously Conor’s gotta sort the stuff out with the [British Boxing] Board [of Control] and then he weren’t involved in the fight if it went ahead in Saudi and lose all our licenses.
“So, they’re literally shooting themselves in the foot. And then the other threat is if we changed the date—so when you’re training and your back’s f----- you need to go and get a doctor’s report and evaluation. He’s injured still. Sauerlands would sue Liam and the promotion and Sky for loss of earnings. That’s a fact. The Sauerlands got a broadcasting deal with Sky so why would they sue Sky and Liam for loss of earnings? He’s injured. There are letters. It’s just a load of bullsh!t, mate. It’s disappointing, isn’t that we could’ve had a cracking Eubank-Smith 2, but we got a bit of farce, really, haven’t we?"
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.