Former junior middleweight titleholder Liam Smith returns to action on Saturday against Sam Eggington in a bid to get back to world title contention. It’s a hometown showcase fight for Smith, 30, from Liverpool, against rugged regional-level boxer Eggington, 25, in the main event of a Matchroom Boxing promotion at Echo Arena in Liverpool.
According top boxing bookmakers, Smith at -1250 is favored to defeat Eggington (+700) and continue his trek as one of the UK’s best 154-pound fighters.
Smith (26-2-1, 14 KOs) is a skilled boxer who is still competing at the top of his game. The main problem he’s faced over the course of his fighting career is that the best he has to offer is just enough to get him huge opportunities against boxing’s most elite junior middleweights without really giving him that great a chance at winning.
But his two losses were not a product of him lacking any technical skill. In fact, even in having been knocked out by Canelo Alvarez in nine rounds, it was no cakewalk for Alvarez, one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
Smith’s skill, gumption and tenacity let him compete with anyone. The issue is his physical ability. He’s not nearly the same level of athlete as Alvarez or even Jaime Mungia, who defeated Smith by 12-round unanimous decision in July 2018.
But against less gifted fighters, where Smith isn’t facing such an uphill battle in pure physical prowess, the fighter is truly as dangerous as he is accomplished.
Eggington (24-5, 15 KOs) is best known for being the man who retired Paulie Malignaggi two years ago. He surprisingly stopped Malignaggi in the eighth round, but the win turned out to be more a testament to Malignaggi’s sharp decline than anything about Eggington.
Since that fight, Eggington has gone 4-2 against regional level opposition, the kind of fighters Smith would probably have handled far more easily and with much greater success.
There’s nothing to suggest heading into the bout that Smith will struggle against Eggington, even if the latter turns in the fight of his life. Smith is a crafty fighter who has won rounds against some of the very best fighters in the world, and Eggington is a far more limited fighter in terms of both talent and craft.
Backing Smith at -1250 is a good play for boxing betting fans in terms of probability, though if you’re willing to take on a little more risk by going deeper into some of the different markets offered, you might be able to snag a better return.
There’s should at least be a little temptation to back Smith by KO, TKO or DQ at -200. After all, Eggington’s best work was probably done in the welterweight division, and he was recently stopped in just two rounds by Hassan Mwakinyo.
But that fight was more about Mwakinyo’s athleticism and tenacity than anything else, and any fighter can get stopped who is countered has hard as Eggington was so early in the fight.
The bookies seem to think Smith will stop Eggington. Betting Yes on the Fight to Go the Distance Market is +175 and betting under 9.5 on the Rounds Market is +110. But the styles of the fighters along with their past performances probably lend better to the idea that the fight will go the full 12 rounds.
Smith should outbox Eggington with relative ease. But unless he just goes for broke the way Mwakinyo did, which is something outside his normal procedure, or just happens to catch Eggington with some really hard punches early, the fight will probably be a unanimous points win for the Liverpoolian.
In that case, backing Smith on points at +220 with 888Sport is at least a reasonable play, if not the best one on the board altogether. It offers serious value on a fairly high probable outcome.
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