Eubank Jr vs Williams: Pride & Relevance
It’s not a fight about major titles or even the fake meaningless belts that litter boxing more than parties do in Downing Street, it’s about pride and boxing relevance.
The loser in Cardiff will have few options left on the world stage, a damaged ego could also come with the realisation that retirement could be imminent.
Liam Williams goes into the all-British grudge match as the fighter expected to lose. The 5-2 odds you can get on a Williams win looks incredibly generous, the 9-2 for a points win, even more so. Make no mistake, Williams is very much a live underdog.
The Welshman fights an opponent who despite holding world titles with little meaning, has very much flattered to deceive as a professional. Ego has got in the way of his development and progress as a professional. And although he has belatedly conceded the need for a full-time trainer, it looks too little too late, especially as the hook up with Roy Jones Jr has so far failed to convince. Chris Eubank Jr looks like a fighter caught between two styles.
Having failed twice when he has legitimately stepped up his quality of opposition, Eubank could be in the land of three strikes and he’s out. Eubank looks good against the robotic fighters of little or no movement. Billy Jo Saunders and George Groves offered something more, and he was found wanting. Williams is no Saunders or Groves, but he brings enough to the table to make this a distinctly uncomfortable night for Eubank.
Despite the one-sided nature of his defeat to Demetrius Andrade for the WBO middleweight title last year, Williams comes into this pivotal fight with the better more recent form.
The win over James DeGale in 2019 was in truth more down to the faded nature of DeGale than any real stark improvement in Eubank. The victory over Matt Korobov later the same year was inconclusive. At best. At worst, he was lucky.
When Eubank returned last year under Jones, we have been left with more questions than answers. The win over Marcus Morrison was worrying. You can legitimately put it down to ring rust or finding his feet with a new trainer, but equally, Eubank had the look of a fighter in decline. The claims he wanted to do the 10 rounds looked more like a case of trying to convince himself than his words carrying any real belief.
In his win over Wanik Awdijan, we admittedly saw some improvements on what we saw against Morrison, but still nowhere enough to tell us he is a reborn fighter. Williams will tell us just how good he is. Or maybe, just how much he has left.
Williams lost heavily on points to Andrade, but I’m not convinced Eubank would have done much better. Before the defeat to the American, Williams had been in perhaps the best form of his career, wipe the Andrade fight away, the odds would be much closer than they are now.
Having left the Dominic Ingle gym for pastures new, Williams will look to Adam Booth to make the difference in a fight that is so critical to both. If Booth can add a touch more guile to the work of Williams, it might be all he needs.
Eubank has always had ability but it hasn’t been nurtured in the way it should have. You always thought he would improve, but it hasn’t quite happened for him. In many ways, much of his talent has been wasted. Is Eubank any better than when Saunders beat him in 2014? I have my doubts. He might even be a lesser fighter.
The move to super-middleweight was always far too much for his body, and largely training himself for much of his career left his peak years unfulfilled. There is little doubt his own arrogance has held him back.
And at 32, Eubank may already be on that irreversible slide. Williams might just be catching him at the perfect moment.
It is one of those all too rare big fights where nobody can say who will win with any form of conviction. Both fighters could easily have gone in another much safer direction to advance their immediate hopes. Both deserve credit for risking maybe everything against each other.
The winner will likely have to do it on points, I don’t see either forcing the stoppage. Eubank probably has to be favoured but with no degree of certainty, and there is always the risk he does more posing than punching. But either way, those 9-2 odds for Williams by decision might look too tempting to ignore.
Photo Credit: (Nick Potts/PA Wire)