It’s just over three months now since a failed drugs test from Benn saw that much-anticipated bout called off on fight week, despite all parties initially insisting it would still go ahead.
Instead it’s a real test for Eubank at the start of a year he hopes will finally bring a world title.
In the two biggest fights of his career so far, against George Groves and Billy Joe Saunders, he has fallen short, but the 33-year-old did produce a brilliant display 11 months ago to cruise to victory over Liam Williams.
Smith has been a world champion before, holding the WBO light-middleweight title before he was beaten by Canelo Alvarez in 2016. Since then he has also lost to Jaime Munguia and Magomed Kurbanov.
However, recent wins over Anthony Fowler and Jessie Vargas - plus a bizarre defeat of Hassan Mwakinyo in September - have got Smith’s career back on track and while defeat against Eubank could prove to be career-ending, victory will renew hopes of one last shot at becoming a two-time world champion.
The build-up to tonight’s main event has been shrouded in controversy, with Smith questioning Eubank Jr’s sexuality and Eubank Jr accusing Smith of cheating on his partner during a very ugly final press conference on Thursday.
There were apologies from the fighters and Sky Sports condemned the “homophobic and offensive remarks”, with Eubank Jr then wearing a rainbow armband at Friday’s weigh-in.
“We don’t discriminate… we don’t alienate,” he said. “We want boxing and sport as a whole, to be all inclusive.”
Eubank Jr vs Smith date, start time, venue and ring walks
Eubank Jr vs Smith takes place tonight on Saturday January 21, 2023 at the AO Arena in Manchester.
The card is due to start at around 7pm GMT, with the main event at approximately 10pm. As ever, those timings are subject to change depending on the length of the undercard bouts.
Eubank Jr vs Smith fight card/undercard in full
Joseph Parker returns to the ring tonight on an impressive undercard, four months on from his defeat to Joe Joyce in a heavyweight thriller inside the same arena.
That halted his attempts to move back into world title contention, and he now faces Jack Massey. The 29-year-old has been out of the ring since November 2021, and the IBO cruiserweight titlist steps up for a daunting first heavyweight fight.
The British and Commonwealth welterweight titles are on the line as Chris Konga faces Ekow Essuman, while Richard Riakporhe looks to prove he is ready for a shot at the big time as he goes up against former world champion Krzysztof Glowacki. Olympic bronze medalist Frazer Clarke also takes his next professional step on the bill.
Chris Eubank Jr vs Liam Smith
Richard Riakporhe vs Krzysztof Glowacki
Ekow Essuman bt Chris Kongo
Joseph Parker bt Jack Massey
Frazer Clarke bt Kevin Nicolas Espindola
Matty Harris bt Jiri Surmaj
Scott Forrest bt Amine Boucetta
Frankie Stringer bt Cristian Narvaez
How to watch Eubank Jr vs Smith
TV channel: In the UK, Eubank Jr vs Smith is available to watch live tonight via pay-per-view on Sky Sports Box Office at a cost of £19.95.
Live stream: Those that have purchased the fight can also watch it online via the downloadable Sky Sports Box Office player or Sky Sports Box Office app.
LIVE coverage: You can follow live coverage of the entire card tonight with Standard Sport’s live fight blog.
Eubank Jr vs Smith fight prediction
Eubank Jr goes into the fight as the favourite and he’ll be the bigger man in the ring. Whether he makes the most of that size advantage remains to be seen though. With Roy Jones back in his corner, it would be no surprise if Eubank opts to try and box at distance rather than trading with Smith, the American bringing a more measured approach to the gameplan.
Last time out against Williams, Eubank dropped the Welshman three times in the opening four rounds but still did not find the knockout punch, and against a tougher opponent he is unlikely to let his hands go from the off.
Eubank claimed in the build-up to his planned fight with Benn that he only needed to be at 60 per cent to win - he believes even less will be required this weekend.
That is certainly not the case though, with Eubank surely knowing that he will have to be at his very best if he’s to avoid a third professional defeat. Smith has the experience of winning on the biggest stage, while there is still that doubt about Eubank when he does step up.
Smith will look to close the ring off and he has the engine to maintain that pressure throughout the fight, even if Eubank boxes his way to many of the early rounds. It’s a fight that looks set to go 12 rounds, with Smith’s work-rate perhaps just enough to see him edge it on the cards.
Smith to win on points.
Eubank Jr vs Smith weigh-in results
Both fighters tipped the scales at 11st 5lbs exactly on Friday afternoon at a tense weigh-in in which Eubank Jr wore a rainbow armband in respose to those homophobic remarks. He also donned a Manchester United shirt to wind up Liverpool native Smith.
Eubank Jr vs Smith betting odds
Eubank Jr to win: 2/5
Smith to win: 2/1
Eubank Jr to win by KO, TKO or DQ: 11/4
Eubank Jr to win by decision/technical decision: 11/10
Smith to win by KO, TKO or DQ: 9/1
Smith to win by decision/technical decision: 3/1
Odds via Betfair (subject to change).