Liam Smith vs. Liam Williams now for interim 154-pound WBO title
The WBO has elevated the all-UK clash between Liam Smith and Liam Williams on April 8 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England to a championship bout for the interim 154-pound title, promoter Frank Warren announced on Thursday.
First a bit of prologue: Canelo Alvarez knocked out Smith in the ninth round in September to claim Smith’s WBO 154-pound title. But Canelo’s possession of the strap may be short lived. Alvarez is set to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on HBO PPV on May 6 at a catch-weight of 164.5 pounds and his promoter has been coy on whether he will definitely vacate the title. WBO president Francisco Valcarcel told RingTV.com in February that Canelo will have to make a decision on the 154-pound belt within 10 days of his bout with Chavez Jr. Canelo is expected to vacate it to campaign at middleweight going forward. Williams (16-0-1, 11 knockouts) is ranked No. 2 by the WBO at 154 while Smith is No. 4.
Liverpool’s Smith (24-1-1, 13 KOs) wants an opportunity to face Canelo again in a rematch and though it’s a long shot a second fight will happen, believes his preparation was compromised for the first fight. “The winner of this is a world champion in waiting,” Smith said in a news release. “I don’t think Canelo has any intention of defending the 154lbs world title. This is a win-win situation for me. If I beat Liam Williams I’ll be in an unbelievable position again.”
Added Smith, who is ranked No. 8 by the RING at 154 pounds, “If Canelo decides to defend his belt I think I could do a million times better against him in a rematch. It was well publicized that I had the worst training camp of my career heading into that fight.” Also on the April 8 card is a lightweight defense by titleholder Terry Flanagan against Petr Petrov; as well as two-time Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams in her pro debut.