By Shaun Brown
Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith believes a bit more experience from a couple of tough European or international fights should be enough to see him move on to challenging for world titles.
The 16-0-1 (6 KOs) British and Commonwealth light middleweight champion makes the second defence of his Lonsdale belt on Sat night against Jason Welborn at the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester as part of the Tyson Fury-Alexander Ustinov undercard.
Welborn 15-2 (6 KOs) stepped in a few weeks ago to replace initial opponent, Nav Mansouri after the Yorkshireman had to withdraw due to a back injury. Smith told BoxingScene.com that Welborn won’t pose much of a threat to his long term aspirations.
“I know he’s straight forward, comes forward and a strong kid and I’m expecting a good fight while it lasts but I don’t think it’ll last for very long. Jason Welborn is as one paced as they come. I don’t think he does anything special, I don’t think he does anything very good.”
After seven months out due to a hand injury, Smith, 25, is fit and ready to dish out his frustrations on Welborn. His hunger to do so has increased furthermore after comments from his new challenger that Smith has had his opponents handpicked to help him win the British title. And added that he is not as good as promotional stable mate Frankie Gavin, who beat Welborn in Jan 2013 when defending his own British title at 140lbs.
“If he wants to say that to give himself extra confidence then he can do that,” responded the 25 year old Liverpudlian.
“I’m not Frankie Gavin because Frankie Gavin is a very, very skilful boxer. I’m not a very skilful boxer because that’s not my style. And he’ll know that come the 26th when I bully him, out fight him and hit him with everything. Frankie stopped him and he’s not a big-hitter. I’m not saying I’m a massive hitter but I’m a big light middleweight now and he’ll know that come the 26th. And when he says my opponents have been hand-picked he seems to forget the [British Boxing] board picked me to fight for the British title. They ordered me against a Matchroom fighter (Erick Ochieng) and he talks about handpicked?! He forgets I picked him! I picked him for a reason and he seems to forget that. I picked him because he’s made for me and I’ll show him that on the 26th.”
Smith told ‘Scene that although he would love to win his British title outright (and one more successful defence after Welborn would do that) this may be his last bout at domestic level should promoter, Frank Warren, offer him a “step up the ladder”.
“I’m very confident I can step up and push on,” he said.
And after undergoing hand surgery due to a torn tendon suffered in his fight against Mark Thompson last December, Smith told ‘Scene that he has become a better fighter despite the lay-off.
“I could’ve fought in May but I just weren’t fit enough in time. I’d only just started punching. That was just a little bit of misfortune but this is the next fight and I’m fit and ready for this one. I’ve worked hard, I’ve had top-class sparring against former world title challengers and stuff like that so I’ve learnt a lot in the gym. I think I’ve improved from the Thompson fight, even though I’ve been out, and I think you’ll see it against Welborn.”
If Smith, as expected, comes through against Welborn then one intriguing match-up could pit the rising talent up against former British light middleweight title holder and world title challenger, Brian Rose 25-2-1 (7 KOs). The Blackpool fighter suffered a one-sided loss to WBO champion, Demetrius Andrade last month in New York and Smith didn’t mince his words when ‘Scene discussed the possibility.
“I’m past Brian Rose, I’d beat Brian Rose tomorrow,” he declared.
“If Brian Rose was my next fight I’d beat him. I’m ahead of Brian Rose. I’d be favourite to beat Brian Rose too. But the likes of Andrade and (IBF world champion) Carlos Molina… I’m a couple of tough fights away from them.”
Rose and his promoter Eddie Hearn received some criticism after the loss to Andrade. Many questioned the Brit’s belief during his maiden world title challenge while others wondered why he was sent over when the view was he had little to no chance of winning.
“He had the British title outright and that was the next step for him so I don’t blame him,” said Smith on the matter.
“But I think he could’ve went at that title fight with a little bit more ambition,” he added.
“I think he could’ve had a bit of belief in himself. He should’ve tried to go and win the title rather than just settling with what he got with the money and proposing to his missus after it. He should’ve been sick as a dog he shouldn’t have been happy as Larry proposing to his girlfriend.”
Shaun Brown is the UK Editor at Boxing Scene and a contributor to Boxing Monthly. He can be contacted at [email protected] with any news, views or stories you may have.