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Liam Smith ready for Radosevic, claims he’s been offered Canelo fight

01
Jun
Photo: Queensberry Promotions

Photo: Queensberry Promotions

When the unbeaten Liam Smith defends his WBO junior middleweight title against Montenegrin Predrag Radosevic on Saturday in Liverpool, England, he will have accomplished something rare.

It has been almost 40 years since a world titleholder from Liverpool defended on home soil. In 1977, John Conteh knocked out unheralded American Len Hutchins in three rounds to retain his WBC light heavyweight championship at The Stadium.

Now Smith, like Conteh, seeks to turn in a dominating display in front of his hometown fans after winning and then defending his belt in Manchester.

“I’m excited to get in the ring and perform well,” said Smith, who is rated No. 8 by THE RING at 154 pounds. “(Radosevic) is a good, solid European fighter; tough, sort of like an Arthur Abraham type, with a thick neck and big shoulders. And he comes to fight.

“I’ve seen some clips on YouTube, including his loss to Felix Sturm. The rest aren’t great to watch because they look like they were shot with a mobile phone but, from the Sturm fight, I can see the style and that’s enough for me and (trainer) Joe (Gallagher).”

Smith (22-0-1, 12 knockouts) sees the style but the oddsmakers are convinced that they can foresee the result, with Radosevic (30-1, 11 KOs) installed as a 14-1 underdog. Smith takes issue with those who devise the numbers and explained why his motivation is sky high.

“I think odds in boxing are terrible and it shouldn’t be like that,” fired the 27-year-old Englishman. “It is what it is, though. People see a foreign name and presume you’re in for a walkover when it’s not. That’s boxing for you.

“I’ve had no trouble getting up for this one because if I don’t win on Saturday, there is no Canelo (Alvarez), there is no Cotto and there are no unification fights. I’m in good shape and, with the U.K. scene being as good as it is right now, I don’t want to box bad and scrape through.”

So, let’s go in order. Over the last month it has been almost impossible to mention Canelo in a sentence without mentioning Gennady Golovkin, and this reporter just did it again. Simply put, it’s the fight that fans want to see. But according to Smith, he has received an offer to fight the Mexican star — and not at 155 pounds.

“I’ve been offered the Canelo fight but I haven’t been told too much about it,” he said. “It would be for my title because he has given up his (WBC) belt at 160 and would be moving back down to 154 pounds.

“My team is keeping things quiet right now because it’s important that my mind is on the job that’s in front of me. I don’t like talking about future fights and we’re just being professional.”

All four Smith brothers — Paul, Stephen and Callum being the others — are extremely accommodating in interviews but Liam clearly didn’t want to discuss the myriad options he has ahead of him.

Still, I pushed my luck and inquired about the possibility of fights with Miguel Cotto or his rival titleholders.

“Cotto has been my mandatory since his loss to Canelo (last November),” Smith said after a short pause. “But I’ve had no official offer and nothing from the WBO advising me that he’s my number one challenger. They are due to order a mandatory fight soon though.

“With (WBA titleholder) Erislandy Lara, I’m always impressed with him because he’s very good, very talented. I’ve had an eye on the Charlo twins (Jermall, IBF; Jermell, WBC) for years and they do everything well. These are fights I’d put my hand up for, though, especially now, because we can unify the division.”

Prior to Smith winning the WBO belt last October with a seventh-round knockout of John Thompson, Liverpool had gone 22 years without a world title victory. The last one was Paul Hodkinson stopping Ricardo Cepeda in four to retain his WBC featherweight title in February 1993.

On Sunday, however, Liverpool’s Tony Bellew joined his former amateur teammate and friend with a stunning third-round stoppage of Ilunga Makabu at Goodison Park to pick up the vacant WBC cruiserweight title.

“It was unbelievable,” said Smith, who was in attendance. “In terms of atmosphere, that was up there with the very best I’ve ever seen. Scott Quigg-Carl Frampton and Ricky Hatton-Kostya Tszyu are two others but that was every bit as good.

“We’d been waiting so long to get a world champion from Liverpool and now we’ve had two in the space of a year. And I can guarantee you that there will be more to come.”

Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

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