Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn say down with The DAZN Boxing Show this week to discuss Liam Smith’s win over Chris Eubank Jr, and also a good bit about Conor Benn’s future, given that Benn was supposed to face Eubank last year, a fight that was scrapped late when Benn failed drug tests.
Hearn says that Eubank vs Benn could still be a major money-maker in the United Kingdom.
Hearn’s reaction to Liam Smith knocking out Chris Eubank Jr
“It really frustrates me when a fight — I mean, it played out in a way that was unexpected, but when someone wins, and you just sit back and go, ‘Why didn’t we know he was gonna win that fight?’ I mean, I feel a bit with Eubank because I feel like he’s had a lot of things happen in his life over the last year or so, but he looked so lost in the ring, even during the ring walk.
“All the things that Eubank had that were his key attributes have either been taken away through time or through training and technique. Eubank has never had good fundamentals, technically he’s never been very good. He has a tremendous engine, he’s extremely tough, he has a fantastic chin, and he’s prepared to get in there and let his hands go. Fast forward to 33 years of age, no longer fearless, no longer a great chin, and worse than that, trying to box and to bringing a style that is so detrimental and against his attributes.
“It was like watching a novice at times. His defense was so leaky, he’s going back in straight lines with his chin up in the air. All these things that Roy Jones is trying to bring in, it’s a complete waste of time.
“Liam Smith is not a big puncher at 160. He’s a tremendous fighter, he’s a really good fighter, but the way (Eubank) was crumbled, and that frailness — that’s either, at 33 you don’t have the chin you used to, or you’re very tired. I don’t know what it is, but the aura of Chris Eubank has gone.”
On the potential future for Eubank vs Benn
“My first bit of reaction was, ‘That would have been Conor (Benn).’ We believed (Benn) was going to win (that) fight. When people talk about the weight, by the way — I don’t represent Chris Eubank Jr, I have no idea how well or not well he makes weight. What I was told is he makes 160 easy. So when we contracted that weight at 157½, 158, whatever it was — by the way, I believe he would have come in at 158½, (but that’s) irrelevant — that’s not on me. I don’t make those decisions.
“Conor Benn’s coming up from 147, so we said to Eubank’s team, ‘We’re not going to 160, and you can’t make 154, how about 157½?’ I don’t know why you want to give me the blame for Eubank and his team agreeing to a fight at 157½. Now, we believe (Benn) would have beaten him at 157½, I believe for sure he would have beaten him at 160 after seeing him on Saturday.
“(Eubank vs Benn) is still there, it’s still a big fight, but Chris Eubank needs to look at his own — it’s the uncertainty of everything. This fight can only happen now at 160 or 160-plus. … Is Conor a big puncher at 160?
“I think Conor Benn would have done the same thing (Smith did), only faster. But styles make fights! Liam Smith is a very good, very smart fighter with good fundamentals. Conor Benn will sit on the chest in the opening 10 seconds and let the artillery fly. He could get knocked out at the same time, because Eubank will let his hands go. But if I’m Chris Eubank Jr now after that performance, I’m looking at guys like Conor Benn, the spiteful guys, and going, ‘No.’”
“I feel like there’s been too much backlash, even Conor wouldn’t want the fight at 157. After (Eubank’s) defeat, Conor would want to make it more difficult for himself to even get credit for that fight. … It’s still a tough fight, it’s a very dangerous fight, but we’re looking at how we get Conor Benn back in the ring.”
“It’s still a huge fight. You sell the fight on the rivalry, on the hatred, on the history, on a welterweight moving up to 160 to fight a guy that has to win to save his career.”
On Eubank possibly rematching Smith
“He’s not gonna beat Liam Smith. … It was a devastating finish. You wouldn’t give Eubank a shot in a rematch. But rematch clauses are rematch clauses. I think if I’m Chris Eubank Jr, I’m thinking about bringing Conor Benn up to a weight where I do have an advantage. Of course, I even thought that was 157, but certainly 160 and above.
“But Conor’s timing compared to Chris Eubank Jr — you have to deal with a kid who is spiteful, and whether that will be to (Benn’s) detriment or not, is emotionally charged. If he wants to stand in front of a middleweight and trade, which he will, that’s different to being Liam Smith, a cute, wily professional who sits behind a jab, who gets his feet in the right position, who lets his hands go at the right time. It was a very assured, complex, impressive performance from Liam Smith.”
“(Eubank) used to be a young kid with a chip on his shoulder that was immensely tough. … But this is why I was frustrated with not picking Liam Smith outright, I thought it was a 50/50 fight, but tell me a fighter that Chris Eubank has beaten, and please don’t say James DeGale, because James DeGale could hardly stand up at that point in his career. Tell me a fighter on his resume that he has beaten that is even close to being, like, a world-level fighter. And Liam, like — Canelo messaged me after the fight. He respects Liam Smith, he rates Liam Smith. Liam Smith stood in front of him, he gave it back to him, yeah he got crushed by a body shot.”
“I like Chris Eubank Jr, I think he’s a great asset to boxing. But I also think Roy Jones is a great mind, and that’s a horrible link-up.”
On the potential for Conor Benn vs Liam Smith
“Liam has done brilliantly well, but I feel like he needs that dance partner (to make a big fight). I actually don’t think Liam Smith against Kell Brook is a massive fight. Like, I feel like the (Eubank) rematch is gonna cause some interest. Style-wise, Liam Smith against Gennadiy Golovkin is a great fight.
“But yeah, I don’t think Conor would — it’s a great fight, Conor against Liam. … This kid was a young, accomplished 147 lber that we were moving and trying to navigate to the world championship in that division. Out of nowhere, the Chris Eubank Jr fight came around — the attraction of it, the money of it, the curiosity of it was too much for everybody to turn down, so we took that fight.
“We mustn’t just get derailed by trying to find another really big fight that might make sense. Liam Smith is a middleweight that doesn’t really have any relevance to Conor Benn’s career — point granted, (Smith) beat the guy (Benn) was supposed to fight. But if we can’t fight Eubank, for me, I want to see Conor Benn back at 147 and back on the road to trying to win that world title or get himself in a position.
“You’ve got two levels to come back at now. You’ve got the level of the top 15 guy, or you jump straight in. You’ve got the, I don’t know, Blair Cobbses of this world and the Alexis Rochas and these kind of guys, or you’ve got the Jaron Ennis, Vergil Ortiz, Thurman, Pacquiao, whoever it’s gonna be.
“One thing amongst all the controversy, and this is what I said to Conor Benn the other day, ‘I know you’ve been through a lot and there’s still a long way to go, but when you fight again, the world is going to be tuning in to watch.’ So the opportunities are there to have all these mega-fights at the right time once we get through this mess.
“The strategy now is key. He wants to go into the biggest fight available straight off the bat. That’s his mindset. Training team, maybe not so, but all will be revealed in the coming months.”
On Benn returning to at least some negative reception: “Of course! That’s life. I said to him, ‘Even if you’re cleared completely, you’re gonna get crisped. You know what? Fuck ‘em. Fuck everybody. You’ve got to go out there, this is your career, you’re the one in there getting punched in the face. You’re the one in there doing the hard spars. You’re the one in there having to get perforated eardrums, beat up in the gym, beat up in a fight, fight in front of the world. At the end of the day, you’re never gonna please everybody. So just do your thing. Stay focused, get in the gym, wait on the decision, be true to yourself.’ The big fights are in front of him. This kid is — I saw some footage of him the other day in the gym, and fuck me, this kid is so exciting. But we’ve still got a lot to get through.”