WBO world middleweight title fight on cards for Liam Smith

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In his first major test at the 160lb limit last month, Smith, the former WBO light-middleweight champion, claimed an upset win over Chris Eubank Jr, stopping his British rival in the fourth round. While Eubank Jr has activated a rematch clause, the WBO has written to the promoters of Alimkhanuly and Smith, with the camps "granted 20 days to reach an agreement" before purse bids are called. Smith, who has won 33 of his 37 professional bouts with three defeats and a draw, first claimed a world title at 154lbs in October 2015, beating Apollo Thompson for the vacant strap and making two successful defences before being dethroned by Mexican superstar Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez in September 2016. Smith has won his last four fights since a controversial points defeat to Russia's Magomed Kurbanov in May 2021 in Ekaterinburg. Kazakhstan's Alimkhanuly (13-0, 8KOs) was upgraded from the WBO's interim champion to world titlist in August last year and made his first defence against Britain's Denzel Bentley in November, triumphing by unanimous decision.

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