Smith KOs Thompson in seven, wins WBO 154-pound title
British junior middleweight Liam Smith has made his dreams, and the dreams of his family, come true by claiming the vacant WBO 154-pound title with a seventh-round knockout of American John Thompson in Manchester, England, on Saturday.
The official time was 1:44.
Smith, THE RING No. 10-rated junior middleweight, followed a decisive sixth round with a huge right-hand knockout in the seventh. Thompson fell face forward and had absolutely no chance of beating the count and the referee waved the bout off before completing it.
“(Thompson) was coming apart,” said Smith (21-0-1, 11 knockouts) when interviewed by BoxNation in the U.K. “He was sharp on his feet early but when I got my rhythm together, I got him.
“I can’t describe how I feel. I’m just looking forward to taking the belt home to my mum.”
The Liverpool man becomes the first of four professional boxing brothers (Paul, Stephen and Callum are the others) to annex a recognized world-title belt and his triumph will have sparked off more than one party in his home city.
Thompson started well, peppering the target with jabs and straight shots down the middle, but the home fighter simply smiled at him. Smith, who is not regaled as a puncher, clearly carried the hitting power, although he was perhaps guilty of not displaying enough of it over the first five sessions.
The fight turned in Round 6, however, when Smith landed a jolting right hand to the head. The shot had an immediate effect on the American’s legs and a follow-up left hook was brutal. Powerful jabs rocked Thompson and he was in desperate trouble from a body attack when the bell saved him.
The knockout was highlight-reel stuff and one of the best seen this year in a world title bout.
With Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s recent retirement from the sport, both the welterweight and junior middleweight divisions are open season. Canelo Alvarez is venturing into middleweight territory for his superfight with Miguel Cotto, so the leading player at 154 pounds is arguably Cuban star Erislandy Lara.
The Top 10 is stocked with solid, if not elite-level competition and the 27-year-old Smith, armed with a world title belt, is in a good position to cash in.
Smith weighed 153.5 pounds with Thompson scaling 152.25.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing