Liam 'Beefy' Smith 'itching' to win back WBO light-middleweight crown against rising star Jaime Munguia

Gareth A Davies
The Telegraph
Smith, right, says he can weather the early attacks to defeat Munguina - AP
Smith, right, says he can weather the early attacks to defeat Munguina - AP

Liam 'Beefy' Smith was the first of four boxing brothers from Liverpool to claim a world title three years ago.

The 29-year-old has the opportunity on Saturday at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas to create his own musical score by winning back the World Boxing Organisation light-middleweight crown he lost to Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, this time against another Mexican in rising 21-year-old star Jaime Munguia.

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Munguia, from Tijuana, promoted by Oscar De La Hoya, usurped the 154lbs WBO belt from Sadam Ali two months ago, stepping into the WBO title challenge after Smith was forced to withdraw through an "allergic reaction" illness during training camp.        

Munguia destroyed Ali with vicious hooking assaults, and at six-foot tall, using his long reach to throw arcing hooks and body shots on his opponent, stopped the 29-year-old inside four rounds to record the 25th stoppage of his 29-fight career.

"I've been itching to get the title back, and I'll 'old man' him in this fight," explained Smith. "I might have to withstand attacks from him in the early rounds, but I know I can weather that and I'll then come on strong. He hasn't faced anyone as good as me. Or as strong." 

<span>Canelo Alvarez, right, looks toward Liam Smith after knocking him down in 2016</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
Canelo Alvarez, right, looks toward Liam Smith after knocking him down in 2016 Credit: Getty Images

"He was called 'a nobody' when it was suggested he could face Gennady Golovkin, and now he's beaten Ali - who is actually a welterweight not a light middleweight - he's now being seen as a sensation," added Smith, whose only defeat has been to 'Canelo'.

"They've come out and set their stall out saying they will beat me quicker than Canelo beat me [Smith was stopped in the ninth against the Mexican star], so it's up to them to make it their fight. If he can't get to me early, Munguia's in for torrid night because I will just get stronger as the fight goes on. As much as he's the champion he hasn't fought anyone better than me, and I have been in against better opponents than him. He's a talented kid, but this fight with me has come too early for him." 

Smith's assessment is accurate, but the Liverpudlian must be smart in the early rounds, before launching his own assaults, in thew mid to late rounds. I favour Smith to win on points, but the 29-year-old is very much the away fighter, and it would not be a surprise to see a controversial verdict if the fight goes the full championship distance. 

In Moscow on Saturday, one of the fights of the year takes place with the final of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament for the Muhammad Ai Trophy, when all four world belts are on the line with the meeting of Oleksandr Uysk and Murat Gassiev. The long-awaited, much-anticipated match-up to create an undisputed cruiserweight world champion pitches the silky skills and power of southpaw Usyk of the Ukraine against the extremely heavy-handed Russian Gassiev. Usyk's superior ring generalship and skill set should be enough to see the growing star of the division home to a points decision, if he can avoid being drawn into a toe-to-toe battle of machismo.  

Jaime Munguia vs Liam Smith is on BoxNation TV; Alexandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev is on ITV

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