A world title-chasing Chris Eubank Jr has Zhanibek Alimkhanuly and Liam Smith in his sights, while the Brit is still not ruling out a long-sought-after fight against Gennadiy Golovkin, says BOXXER promoter Ben Shalom.
Eubank Jr, who beat Liam Williams via unanimous decision in February, had been linked to a possible fight with Kell Brook following the Sheffield man’s victory over Amir Khan, only for Brook’s retirement announcement to officially end negotiations at the weekend.
Shalom believes the outcome served as the right move for both men, and is now confident Eubank Jr is poised for a title shot in the near future.
“We’d like the Zhanibek [Alimkhanuly] fight potentially,” Shalom told Sky Sports. “He’s fighting Danny Dignum for the world title in May. We’re speaking to Top Rank about that fight.
“Eubank Jr wants a world title and we believe that’s the easiest option for him now. We also think Liam Smith is a good fight and I think it’s going to come down to those two.
“I’d like to see him fight for a world title, I think we can make that happen.”
Former world champion Liam Smith strengthened his position in the WBO rankings with a 10th-round stoppage victory over Jessie Vargas in Madison Square Garden.
But Golovkin remains a favoured opponent for Eubank Jr, and the Kazakh star could be forced to reassess his own plans for the remainder of the year after a trilogy fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was put in doubt, or at least on hold, following the Mexican’s defeat to Dmitry Bivol.
“It will be interesting to see what happens with the Canelo-Golovkin fight, because Golovkin was a fight that Chris really wanted and I think that’s a great fight for Chris,” Shalom added.
“Golovkin’s been waiting for that rematch with Canelo and if Canelo’s now going to fight Bivol in a rematch, then CEJ-GGG could become more likely. I’d like to see him fight for world titles, whether it’s Golovkin, Zhanibek, Lara – that’s what he should be aiming for.
“Chris Eubank Jr won’t duck anyone and has never ducked anyone. He wants world titles and that’s always been the ambition. Who wouldn’t want a big fight with Kell Brook? Of course Eubank wanted that, but at the same time his ambition is world titles and his ambition is the biggest names.
“We believe he’s going to have his world title shot very soon and we think that’s the right path for him. It was right for Kell to retire and it’s also right from Chris to be fighting the very best now of active fighters and be going for the titles.”
How close was Brook fight?
An at-peace Brook called time on his 40-win career at the weekend as he admitted there was “no dark feeling left in me” thanks to the win over Khan, his respect for whom he underlined following the pair’s decade-long feud.
While Eubank Jr proved tempting, retirement always seemingly felt like the path Brook would take.
“There was a little interest in the Eubank Jr fight from him, but when the commercial arrangements dragged on,” said Shalom. “We believed it was an amazing option to retire on the high.
“If it had gone the other way against Khan it might have been different, but after a career like he’s had and to be able to finish on a night like that, it was definitely the right decision.
“When we spoke and decided that Eubank wasn’t the right option and that retirement was the best option, I think everyone felt comfortable with that decision.
“It wasn’t the weight, I think we got past the weight. The economics of the fight made it difficult. The longer Kell was out the gym, the more he could see things with a clearer head. Kell was always leaning towards retirement, it was going to take something extremely special to drag him back in.”
Source : Sky Sports