UNDAUNTED by the hostile crowd or the determination of opponent Liam Williams, Chris Eubank Jr hammered out a clear, unanimous points victory at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on Saturday (February 5).
Williams, roared on by the deafening support of the local crowd, bounded forward after Eubank to open the contest. His jabs forced Eubank on to the back foot. The Brighton man moved away, his hands low and arms loose. But just as it looked like Williams would take the first round, he stepped fully on to a lead left. It popped Williams off his feet. The Welshman looked stunned for an instant, the crowd surprised.
But Eubank showed that power of his was not a fluke occurrence. He blasted Williams over again in the second round, a right cross setting up a quick brace of hooks. The combination knocked Liam down. It was harder now for him to beat this count too. But beat it he did. Eubank’s confidence however continued to grow. He grinned, spoke to Williams, shrugged when the Welshman landed shots in the third round. And again, in the fourth round, a quick intercepting left put Williams down.
Williams though refused to unravel. Despite Eubank’s strength, despite a cut over his left eye, and a swelling bulging under his right eye, Williams fought on. Eubank relaxed, skipping off with his hands lowered again, talking every now and then to his rival. Williams came on still. He got rough, he needed to to keep himself in the fight, and barreled into Eubank. Williams planted a firm jab to the jaw and began to launch his right into Eubank’s chin, clawing some rounds back his way. Liam steadied himself in the fight, making Eubank miss with some wild shots as the contest progressed.
But Eubank would reassert himself before it was over. He put weight into lefts in the 11th round. He snapped a cruel lead hook into the jaw and later in the round opened up to bundle Williams over again for a fourth knockdown. Eubank spent much of the 12th showboating, enraging the crowd and Williams in equal measure. He was however a clear winner, taking a unanimous decision, 116-109, 116-108 and 117-109.
Claressa Shields, America’s first two-time Olympic boxing gold medallist, defended her WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight belts against Ema Kozin. It was ultimately a straightforward outing for Sheilds. She advanced on her prey, ready to hammer the southpaw with hefty rights. Kozin landed little, backing up instead. Shields maintained the pressure, but became overly reliant on her right. Cracking left hooks to the body looked dangerous and if she had used her jab more she would surely have unpicked Kozin more efficiently. Not that she allowed Kozin into a round anyway. Shields was a shut-out winner, 100-90 for all three judges after their 10 rounds.
Caroline Dubois didn’t medal at the Tokyo Olympics but was a stellar Youth and international amateur. She made her professional debut in Cardiff and showcased some of her attacking repertoire against tough Vaida Masiokaite. Dubois, a southpaw, was too fast for her opponent, taking the measure of Masiokaite with speedy jabs and then putting together rapid fire combinations of straight punches.
The back-hand lefts slamming in bothered Masiokaite and Dubois almost knocked her over in the third round. But Masiokaite kept her feet under her and absorbed the shots coming her way for the rest of the six rounder. The young Londoner, only 21 years old, was a 60-54 victor. There will be much more to come.
Julius Indongo might be a former unified belt-holder but Chris Jenkins has a few years on the 38 year old and seemingly more ambition. Indongo fired southpaw lefts at the Welshman but Chris took his shots and began to work in snappy right hooks. The Namibian felt Jenkins’ shots in their exchanges and could not arrest Chris’ forward momentum. Jenkins took a victory, one that he needed, winning 78-75 after eight rounds.
Shane Gill and Steve Robinson clattered shots into another with gusto for an entertaining six rounder that ended with Gill upsetting the house fighter as he took a 58-56 win.