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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Connor O'Neill

Liam Smith stuns Chris Eubank Jr as Scousers take over Manchester for the night

In the end, it took 69 seconds of round four for Liam Smith to bring a bitter rivalry to an explosive end.

Although unexpected, it was quite simply brilliant. A career best performance from Smith which allows him to dream.

After the controversial war of words between the two in recent months, supporters hoped boxing would take centre stage and boy it did. A brief, but brutal battle for the ages.

READ MORE: Liam Smith defeats Chris Eubank Jr with stunning knockout as Anfield dream could be next

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Smith's long rivalry with Eubank dates back more than seven years to a bitterly contested series of sparring sessions. They left 'Beefy' convinced he was the better fighter.

The ill-tempered build-up between the British middleweight rivals bled into a cagey start at a sold out AO Arena in Manchester.

But before that we had two intense ringwalks. Smith was the first man to enter the ring and did so to huge cheers from thousands who had come to get him over the line.

This was a scene Smith had long craved. The Scousers had officially taken over Manchester for the night.

Eubank, on the other hand, maintained his pantomime villain persona and left Smith waiting for a long time in the ring as he processed in. Boos greeted the 33-year-old’s entrance.

It was not surprising that Smith, roared on by his army of fans, started on the front foot. He edged the opening round despite Eubank letting his hands go.

The second round saw Eubank let fly with a number of big shots, but the head movement of Smith made it hard for them to land, while 'Beefy' slipped a three-punch combination and slugged a right to the head of the Brighton man.

However, Eubank appeared to turn the screw in the third round, throwing three big uppercuts in succession, the 33-year-old breaching Smith’s tight guard for the first time in the fight in the process.

The flurry of shots had Joe McNally, Smith’s trainer, tearing his hair out ringside, and it was no surprise that at the end of the round he had a few stern words for his fighter.

“I lost him for a little bit in the third round because he’s a ballsy f****r,” McNally admitted post-fight.

But a telling off from McNally led to one of the most brutal finishes seen inside a British boxing ring. And it was one that no-one in attendance, or watching at home, saw coming.

It was an expertly executed combination, a left uppercut followed by a left hook. The combination sent Eubank to the canvas.

But to his credit, he rose to his feet in a bid to carry on, and carry on he did, but by this point a stoppage felt inevitable.

And it was no surprise when, just seconds later following a combination of shots to the head and body, Eubank hit the canvas for a second time.

Again, he rose bravely, but this time referee Victor Loughlin waved the contest off, before McNally was forced to intervene as the 33-year-old attempted to carry on.

A rematch, or a fight with Conor Benn – so controversially delayed - could be all that is left for the 33-year-old.

But as Eubank attempted to come to terms with what had just happened in his corner, across the ring Smith celebrated with his overjoyed team and family.

A career best performance allows him to dream of a big night at Anfield, the chance to become a two-time world champion or even a showdown with Gennady Golovkin.


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