Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr will face each other in a rematch on Saturday night at the AO Arena, Manchester. The long-awaited event which has been named “Repeat or Revenge” was months in the making after Liam Smith’s thunderous knockout victory in January. The rematch was on, then it was off, Conor Benn was the target for Eubank Jr then he wasn’t, Smith and redemption were back in the cross hairs for a fight that was originally scheduled for the 17th of June which was rescheduled to the 1st of July, the fight was then delayed a second time to this weekend due to an injury to Smith. Finally fight night it is upon us.
The rematch that is to be held on Sky Sports Box Office has initiated ample debate among boxing fans. Some saw Smith’s win as the obvious outcome of these two men trading blows and some just cannot see how the much larger Eubank was so easily disposed of. Though it is probably fair to assume that most fans see this weekend’s duel going much the same way as last time, it is likely to be a lively affair with some possible twists and turns.
A number of Sky’s big names will be fighting on the card and will be making their way to the ring on Saturday evening. The undercard features Mark Heffron vs Jack Cullen for the British super-middleweight title in the likely show stealer, Adam Azim will be taking on Aram Faniian of Ukraine, American star Mikaela Mayer will be squaring off against Silvia Bortot in her light-welterweight debut, the card also features Frankie Stringer, Olympic champion Lauren Price and Albanian menace Florian Marku. But the fight that has truly caught the fans attention is Olympic bronze medallist Frazer Clarke vs David “The White Rhino” Allen.
This is fight between two of British boxing’s best known good guys. Frazer Clarke is currently sitting on an unbeaten record of 7-0 with 5 stoppages. The Staffordshire man is one of the best and most decorated amateur boxers our country has ever developed a former Strandzha Cup champion, Great Britain Championship gold medallist, two-time Senior Elite ABA finalist and one time champion, two-time European Union Championship gold medallist, European Championship silver medallist, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and 2020 Olympic bronze medallist. Clarke travelled the world and took on the very best and most ferocious competition that the meat grinder of elite Amateur boxing threw at him, and he won. But since turning over at the relatively late age of 30 Clarke has not looked or performed anything like a future champion and promotional company Boxxer certainly have not matched him like one.
Marking his debut in early 2022 on the undercard of the Kell Brook vs Amir Khan “super-fight” with a stoppage win against fellow debutant Jake Darnell, a man who was quite literally pulled from the crowd during the weigh ins, Clarke has not been able to get the matches and momentum a man of his accolades deserves. His best win came in November of last year when he outpointed the tough and insanely underrated journeyman Kamil Sokolowski, and this year he has defeated former contenders Bogdan Dinu and Mariusz Wach but he just hasn’t caught or captured the viewers imaginations. It is certainly not down to a lack of talent, he’s big, strong, has good movement, tidy footwork, a solid defence and carries decent power, untalented people do not survive in the world of elite amateur boxing let alone thrive in it and this is the real problem, he is still boxing like he’s wearing a vest, there is a jousting quality to his work, a frantic lightness to his jab, he visibly lifts his chin when he throws those jabs, his offence is a tad formulaic and he stalks his prey rather than cutting of the ring. There is a lot to like about Clarke but his deficiencies are glaring.
These are all weaknesses that a fit David Allen (that is the caveat) will latch on to and exploit. A lot has been said about Allen in the last few years but it cannot be denied that he truly understands boxing. If Clarke flicks grazing point scoring jabs at Allen he will be timed and punished, if he repeatedly throws the same combinations Allen will block them, grab a hold of Clarke and spin him which is arguably Allen’s greatest skill and if Clarke repeatedly lifts his chin, it will be met with one of Allen’s famous over hand rights. Of course, Allen has his own glaring faults, we have seen them many times, he is slow, relies entirely too much on his natural grit and has never taken the sport as seriously as someone who has been given the chances and opportunities that he has been given owed it to themselves and maybe the fans. But as strange as it may sound in the year of 2023 this fight feels like Allen’s to lose, David Allen the middling everyman who was more famous for sporting comedy underwear at weigh ins and his jovial friendship with Eddie Hearn and who has boxed a mere three times in three years.
No boxing fan should feel this way but ultimately Clarke has no one to blame but himself. This bout has all the makings of a barnstormer, that is what us fans want and it is exactly what Allen will want, a chance to out tough Clarke, shake his amateur foundations, manhandle him, drop over hand bombs from above and be the last man standing. Frazer Clarke cannot fall for this, he must meet Allen’s brutish toughness with calm, confident spite, he is better than Allen and has achieved things that Allen can only dream of, he must take off the vest once and for all and show us the professional boxer beneath.
It may only be bout number eight but it’s make or break for Clarke, if he is to Make it, he needs to break the Yorkshire Rhino.