Tuesday, June 06, 2023  |



Liam Smith receives message from Erislandy Lara

Fighters Network

Reigning WBO junior middleweight belt holder Liam Smith achieved world honors in October when he scored a highlight reel seventh-round knockout of American John Thompson to capture the vacant belt.

On Dec. 19, in Manchester, England, the Englishman will make his first defense against the unheralded Jimmy Kelly but Smith’s name is already on the lips of arguably the finest fighter in the 154-pound division.

“When I woke up the other morning (Erislandy) Lara had messaged me about unifying the titles,” recalled Smith, who is rated No. 9 by THE RING at 154 pounds. “We had a very cordial, respectful chat (through social media). It’s great to be associated with these names and I want to be involved in these unification fights as soon as possible.

“The WBC belt is presently vacant and Jermall Charlo (IBF titleholder) and Lara (WBA titleholder) are both coached by Ronnie Shields, so they aren’t going to fight each other. For unification to happen any time soon, they have to come through me.”

With just 70 days splitting his coronation and his maiden defense, Smith knows he could collect unwanted attention for being one of the shortest reigning champions in the history of the sport, were he to fluff his lines against Jimmy Kelly.

Smith said, “I’m definitely not underestimating him. I’ve got Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Tommy Langford in for sparring. Does that suggest that I’m taking Kelly lightly? When I hit the scales, everyone will see what fabulous shape I’m in.

“On Dec. 19, fans will be seeing my seventh stoppage in a row. That’s a promise.”

Information courtesy of a press release issued by Queensberry Promotions

The main event on Frank Warren’s show is the WBO middleweight title fight between champion Andy Lee and challenger Billy Joe Saunders. Tickets priced at ┬ú40, ┬ú50, ┬ú75, ┬ú100, ┬ú200 and ┬ú300 are available from www.frankwarren.com, TicketMaster Tel: 0844 844 0444 www.ticketmaster.co.uk, Eventim Tel: 0844 249 1000 www.eventim.co.uk and Manchester Arena Tel: 0161 950 5000/ 0161 950 5229 (disabled access bookings).