The Friday Faceup

Photo: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER

Boxing is back in the UK ! And with a bang.

Saturday night at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff sees the much awaited contest between world ranked middleweights Chris Eubank Jr. and Liam Williams. This is a genuine grudge match following months of animosity exchanged on social media and a number of postponements fanning the flames further.

Eubank Jr (31-2, 23 KO’s) from Brighton, England will enter the dragons den of the Welsh capital against the hometown hero. On the surface he seems unfazed by this citing his previous experiences of fighting overseas and with supreme confidence in his own abilities. Williams (23-3-1, 18 KO’s) whilst having the advantages of home recognises the pressure might be on him greater due to the expectations and passion of his compatriots.

The atmosphere is sure to be electric in a contest promoted by BOXXER and being shown live on Sky Sports in the UK.

The contest is the epitome of a crossroads fight with the loser having nowhere to go other than step back down to domestic level. Williams (29) is coming off a loss to Demetrius Andrade for the WBO ‘world’ middleweight title, whereas Eubank (32) has knocked on the door of the elite fighters, but is yet to secure that marquee fight. His two losses have come at domestic level to former ‘world’ champions Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves. The Brighton man quite simply has to win to remain relevant at world level.

In yesterday’s final press conference Eubank Jr. said “I’m going to take him out. All that matters is what’s going to happen on the night and that’s me standing over him and looking down and raising my fists as he gets counted out. It’s going to be a hell of a fight”.

Williams equally confident replied “It’s an unbelievable opportunity to fight here in Cardiff in such a high level fight against Chris. I’m just so excited to put an end to this guy, drop him down a few levels. You’ll realise his level after this fight”.

It promises to be a humdinger with the rough-tough Williams looking to take the fight to Eubank from the opening bell and the Englishman boasting the same. Both predict knockouts, but The Undisputed sees a frenetic opening, leading to a boxing match in the mid rounds before Williams is stopped around the eighth on cuts, as Eubank picks him off.

The main event is supported by an excellent card featuring women’s double Olympic gold medalist and professional world champion Claressa Shields of the USA against Slovenia’s Ema Kozin.

Shields (11-0, 2 KO’s) although rated pound-for-pound #2 by The Ring magazine (behind Ireland’s Katie Taylor) refers to herself as the GWOAT ‘Greatest Woman of All Time’ on the basis of her substantial ring accomplishments. She is a three-weight world champion and currently undisputed in two divisions (middleweight and junior-middleweight).

Kozin (21-0-1, 11 KO’s) cannot boast that pedigree but would appear to be the bigger puncher of the two, although the quality of her opposition is inferior.

Saturday’s contest is an opportunity to showcase Shields’ skills in the UK before setting up a blockbuster contest with Britain’s former Olympian Savannah Marshall; the only woman to beat her in the World Amateur Boxing Championships back in 2012.

There has been a lot exchanged between the two on social media over the last few months. The American summed up her approach and immediate future “I’ll break it down for you quick: one, beat up Ema Kozin and then beat up your [UK] favourite Savannah Marshall and go home. That’s why I’m here. So February 5 is the beginning”.

Shields (26) has all the pedigree and, although Kozin (23) is to be respected and will come to fight, we see the American putting on a boxing masterclass and winning the contest on points to set up that big date later in the year.

The card also sees the much anticipated professional debut of London’s Caroline Dubois, coming quickly off the back of her disappointment at early elimination from the Tokyo Olympics. Dubois is a quality act and expected to suit the professional code and, as sister of world ranked heavyweight Daniel, has the boxing DNA to match. She will be a bright addition to the professional ranks and will be looking to impress from the off. She faces Lithuania’s experienced Vaida Masiokaite (2-14-4, 1 KO).

Transmission starts in the UK on Sky Sports main event at 19:30 GMT and will also be available on Talksport radio.

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