The WBO mandated Smith to fight the reigning titleholder, Zhanibek Alimkhanuly. This poses a major problem for Smith, depending on whether he values legacy or a big payday.
Fighting Eubank Jr would arguably earn him a bigger purse, but since he demolished him with consummate ease the first time, fans cannot see past another routine victory.
The WBO has ordered Liam Smith to face Janibek Alimkhanuly for their middleweight title, though Smith is contractually obligated to face Chris Eubank Jr in a rematch
— Bad Left Hook (@badlefthook) February 22, 2023
A bout against Zhanibek, however, would pose more of a problem. He is one of the most feared in the division while, at the same time, providing Smith with a chance to make history.
The WBO announced its plan to issue a ruling on the Janibek vs Smith bout, providing less than three weeks for the two sides to negotiate an agreement.
It appears unlikely that the situation will be resolved in favor of Smith, thus prompting the WBO to look elsewhere.
The only possible way for Smith to accept the WBO’s suggestion would be for Eubank to relinquish his position.
But a defeat for Eubank Jr will only increase the calls for him to retire, as both fighters have plenty to contemplate.