The first big UK fight card of 2023 comes this Saturday at the AO Arena in Manchester, as Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith lock horns in a twelve round at middleweight.
Sky Sports Box Office televise Eubank Jr vs Smith in the UK, while BOXXER and Wasserman Boxing share the promotional duties.
This looks a solid match-up, and both have a solid argument to take victory here.
Eubank Jr (32-2, 23 KOs) is on a six-fight winning streak since being outhustled and outscored by George Groves at super middleweight in 2018.
Since then, the Brighton man has scored wins over a faded James DeGale (UD12) and Matt Korobov, who injured his shoulder after two rounds, however he has largely gone through the motions.
The 33-year-old was last out in February last year, meeting Liam Williams in a grudge match, and the Welshman was down four times in all before rallying, but then going down on the cards.
Smith (32-3-1, 19 KOs) was WBO world champion at super welterweight before shipping his title to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in 2016, and he also lost a decision to Jaimie Munguia in a bid for his old belt in 2018.
‘Beefy’ was controversially outscored by Magomed Kurbanov in Russia in an eliminator in May 2021, and has since won three on the bounce, all inside the distance including an eighth round stoppage of Anthony Fowler, and a tenth round stoppage of Jessie Vargas.
The 34-year-old last appeared in September, stopping Hassan Mwakinyo in four in Liverpool.
Prediction: The two occasions that Eubank has lost, he has been outboxed, and not allowed to get his flurries of punches off, and I feel that this is the way that this fight may go too. Smith is a big middleweight, and a clever boxer, and I lean towards him taking a tight decision win.
The undercard features some intriguing matches.
Riakporhe takes on Glowacki
Richard Riakporhe is edging closer to a world title shot, and the cruiserweight takes on his toughest assignment to date on paper, as he meets former world champion, Krzysztof Glowacki over twelve.
Riakporhe (15-0, 11 KOs) is on a run of three straight early wins, and he fought twice in 2022, knocking out Deion Jumah in eight in March, and then Fabio Turchi was halted in two three months later.
Glowacki (32-3, 20 KOs) is now a slightly faded force, but still capable. The Pole has lost two of his last three inside schedule, stopped in three by Mairis Briedis in 2019, and in six to Lawrence Okolie in 2021.
The 36-year-old did return at a lower level in his native Poland last April, winning in four against Francisco Rivas Ruiz.
Prediction: Riakporhe should do the job inside the distance here, and I think once he works over the body of the Pole, he should take the win before the sixth.
Parker meets Massey
Joseph Parker has largely disappointed since losing his WBO heavyweight title to Anthony Joshua in 2018, and the New Zealander attempts another push up the rankings after a knockout loss to Joe Joyce last time out.
Parker (30-3, 21 KOs) takes on Cheshire-based Jack Massey (20-1, 11 KOs), a man more used to campaigning at cruiserweight, over ten.
Massey’s sole loss was to the aforementioned Riakporhe in 2019 on the cards in a British title challenge.
Prediction: Parker will be the much heavier man, and I think he can get a stoppage win before halfway.
Essuman clashes with Kongo
A wealth of domestic and ranking building titles are on the line at welterweight, where Ekow Essuman (18-0, 7 KOs) should be able to defend his British, Commonwealth and IBF European straps, and can add another title with a points win against Chris Kongo (14-1, 7 KOs), who holds the WBC International belt.
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Frazer Clarke (4-0, 3 KOs) gets another run-out, and the Burton-based heavyweight can halt Kevin Nicolas Espindola (7-6, 2 KOs), a man who has been the distance with Solomon Dacres, in their eight rounder.
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Coventry heavyweight Matty Harris (3-0, 2 KOs) can halt Jiri Surmaj (3-2, 2 KOs), and at cruiserweight, Scott Forrest (3-0, 3 KOs) can also win early against Amine Boucetta (7-5).