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LIAM SMITH TAKES OUT CHRIS EUBANK JR WITH SPECTACULAR KNOCKOUT FINISH IN FOURTH ROUND IN MANCHESTER

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Smith takes out Chris Eubank Jr with spectacular knockout finish

Liam Smith upsets Chris Eubank Jr in four remarkable rounds to take their rivalry to a new level at the Manchester Arena on Saturday; Eubank Jr floored twice in fourth round by Smith.

Liam Smith flings his right into Eubank

Liam Smith twice blasted Chris Eubank down to the canvas and finished their fight in four astonishing rounds at the Manchester Arena.

After a dominant third round from Eubank, Smith came flying out of the traps in the fourth, flooring his opponent for the first time 45 seconds into the round.

Eubank was badly hurt and Smith put him down a second time within seconds, with the referee leaping in to call a halt even as Eubank tried to fight on.

Smith’s long rivalry with Eubank Jr dates back more than seven years to a bitterly contested series of sparring sessions.

It left the Liverpool man convinced he was the better fighter, even once he’d stepped up to middleweight. Those suggestions were imperiously dismissed by Eubank Jr, only enraging the former WBO titlist further.

Despite the fractious build-up to this contest, Smith was the crowd favourite as he entered a raucous Manchester Arena, packed out with 18,000 in attendance.

It was a setting he’d craved, a stage that gave him the chance to prove whether he could recapture his previous status as a world champion once again.

Yet unfazed by the hostile atmosphere, Eubank left Smith waiting for a long time in the ring as he processed in, stepped up to the ring apron and looked out to the arena, before easily vaulting over the top rope in the manner of his famous father.

Chris Eubank Jr seemed unfazed by the rowdy reception he received on his ringwalk in Manchester Arena

Smith, representing a boxing dynasty of his own, is one of four brothers who have all won British titles, all challenged for world titles and two of whom have previously been world champions.

His pride and potentially his boxing future were on the line in this fight. But he answered all the questions Eubank had asked of him with that extraordinary ending.

Smith wasn’t supposed to be the power puncher in this particular fight. He was though a ruthless finisher.

Carl Froch and Johnny Nelson agree the middleweight division isn’t for Chris Eubank Jr, but the pair don’t think he’ll retire after the defeat to Liam Smith

To begin Eubank doubled his jab, then threw that left to the body. Smith edged forward with his gloves high. He launched his right to the body. But stepping in again a punch to the head caught him flush.

Smith though didn’t give away too many openings. Eubank was active in that first round, letting his hands go but generally made few mistakes, only receiving glancing blows as his right dug to the body again.

Smith’s corner called for “educated pressure” and he provided it in the second round. Coming on, he still slipped a three-punch combination and slugged a right to Eubank’s head. Smith made Eubank throw but didn’t let him land too much.

Eubank therefore moved off, looking to box, but conceding ground.

Smith ducked a wild left hook and resumed his front foot approach. Eubank snapped his jab out, keeping Smith off and clipped him with a right, before then bringing in dangerous uppercuts with his back hand. Those uppercuts were a crucial new addition to his work in the third round. They swung that round his way and all of a sudden he seemed to take a strong hold of the fight.

But Smith changed it all in the fourth round. He backed Eubank into a corner and unloaded a combination. Connecting hard, he stunned Eubank and dropped him heavily to the canvas.

It was an expertly executed combination, a left uppercut followed by a savage left hook.

Eubank rose bravely but was unsteady and a right put him down again immediately.

He rose again, trying to barrel through the arms of the referee on instinct now but Victor Loughlin would not let him take further damage, ending it at 1:09 of the fourth round.

Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith after the fight

What they said

Liam Smith says people got too carried away with Chris Eubank Jr’s chin and he knew he was good enough to knock him out.

Liam Smith said: “I don’t know if it was one shot or an accumulation, but I told you all week.

“A lot got made of Chris’ great chin, I’ve got a great chin, but there’s many fighters with better chins who have been knocked out in the past.

“I told you all week, don’t be surprised, nobody can not be hurt.”

Chris Eubank Jr said: “Big congratulations to him. He caught me with a great shot.

“The build-up was the build-up, it got a bit ugly at the end. I regretted that. I respect you, I respect your family, I always have.

“If the fans want to see a rematch, we can get it on at Anfield.

“Big respect, man.”

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JUMP KING! OSIMHEN BREAKS RONALDO’S SERIE A RECORD

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Super Eagles and Napoli striker Victor Osimhen beats Cristiano Ronaldo's record for highest vertical leap for a header in Serie A

Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen on Sunday broke Cristiano Ronaldo’s four years record to become Serie A’s jump-king after a leap of 2.58 metres during Napoli’s impressive 3-0 win away to Spezia.

Osimhen achieved the incredible feat when he netted his first goal – Napoli’s second of the day – against the Little Eagles at the Stadio Alberto Picco.

The Nigeria international has scored great headers during his career, but the goal against Spezia was truly extraordinary and could go down as a contender for the greatest headed goal in football history.

After a goalless first half, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia gave Luciano Spalletti’s side the lead after converting from the penalty spot before Osimhen added the game’s second in the 68th minute with a remarkable effort.

The 24-year-old produced a staggering 71cm leap and reached a height of 8.47ft (2.58m) – higher than the crossbar (8ft) – before heading past Spezia goalkeeper Bartłomiej Drągowski.

And according to Corriere dello Sport (via Tutto Napoli), Osimhen, with that jump, climbed to a height of 2.58 metres – a mark typical of elite NBA stars.

In doing that, Osimhen set a new Italian Serie A record, rubbing off the previous 2.56 metres mark set by Ronaldo for Juventus against Sampdoria in 2019.

It is also a new personal career high for Osimhen whose previous mark was at 2.52m set against Torino at the Diego Maradona Stadium last season.

The world record of 2.62m set by Ugandan defender Bevis Mugabi in the Scottish Championship in January 2021, however, remains intact.

Osimhen has now scored 16 Serie A goals this term, the most he has ever managed in a single season in his career.

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MAN CITY FACE POINTS DEDUCTION, EXPULSION FOR VIOLATING FINANCIAL RULES

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Manchester City have been allegedly accused of breaching financial rules and face points deduction or even expulsion from the Premier League.

According to TalkSport, Premier League has charged Pep Guardiaola’s side with more than 100 charges following the release of the statement from 2009/10 season to the 2017/18 season.

The Premier League made a four-year investigation into the finances of the blue side of the Manchester.

A range of penalties could be imposed at the Etihad outfit if they have found guilty of the charges, including a points penalty or even expulsion.

The club are alleged to have flouted league rules requiring provision “in utmost good faith” of “accurate financial information that gives a true and fair view of the club’s financial position.”

The Premier League disclosed that the correct financial information required related to “revenue (including sponsorship revenue), its related parties and its operating costs.”

Manchester City’s second set of breaches relate to alleged breaking of rules “requiring a member club to include full details of manager remuneration in its relevant contracts with its manager.”

This is related to seasons 2009/10 to 2012/13, when Roberto Mancini was in charge of the club.

These breaches also refers to requirements for a club to include full details of player remuneration within the relevant contracts, for the seasons 2010/11 to 2015/16 inclusive.

There are also alleged violations that link to failure to comply with UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations, which relates from 2013/14 to 2017/18

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I WANT TO WIN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – OSIMHEN

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Napoli's Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen reacts during the Italian Serie A football match between Spezia and Napoli on February 5, 2023 at the Alberto-Picco stadium in La Spezia. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

Following their impressive run in the 2022/23 Serie A season, Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti and Nigeria international Victor Osimhen have set a Champions League target.

The Partenopei are on course to win their first Scudetto in 33 years and enjoy 13 points lead at the top of the standings, won 18 of their 21 league games of the season, drawn two and lost one.

The 24-year-old Nigerian striker scored a brace as Napoli dispatched Spezia 3-0 in a dominant match on Sunday to increase his goal tally to 16 in 17 appearances.

The Nigerian forward is now the fourth Napoli player to score 16 goals in the first 21 Serie A games of the season following in the footsteps of Luis Vinicio in 1955-56, Edinson Cavani in 2012-13 and Gonzalo Higuain in 2015-16.

According to Italian media, Gazzetta dello Sport, the Napoli striker has stated his intention of winning the Champions League title with Napoli.

The paper reported that Osimhen had already disclosed this to Azzurri president Aurelio De Laurentiis in their first meeting before signing the contract that currently binds him until 2025.

“I want to win the Champions League,” Osimhen told De Laurentiis on that occasion.

Spalletti hailed the team mentality and assured them they have every intention of going for Champions League glory too.

“You can either stick or twist and we’ve made our decision,” the Italian tactician told Sky Sport Italia.

Parthenopeans finished top of their Champions League group stage with 15 points from six matches and are also preparing for the Round of 16 matches against Eintracht Frankfurt on February 21 and Spalletti is aiming to take each day as it comes or go for it all.

“There are moments in life when you achieve results and then you can either stick or twist. We have no doubts about that, we have made our decision to gamble for double, going to attack every game and trying to achieve something for the love of these fans who were all praying for us today. We must be proud of the love Neapolitans have for us and translate that onto the pitch.”

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