By Terence Dooley
Paul Smith takes on Paul Samuels at the Olympia, Liverpool next Saturday. Samuels, 21-9-2 (12), has replaced Bristol’s Danny Butler. The hard-hitting Welshman will be Smith’s second opponent since the Liverpudlian lost his British 168lb title to James DeGale in December of last year. Previous foe Jozsef Matolcsi was taken out in a single stanza on May 21st, the ‘Real Gone Kid’ believes that Samuels’ own punch power adds a bit of spice to the eight-threes meeting.
“He is a good opponent who will keep me on my toes,” revealed Smith when confirming the change. “You saw how hard Paul hits when he scored the double knockdown against Cello Renda [in 2009], which is what he’s probably known for now, and then winning the fight but he hit Darren Barker with big shots before he got knocked out.”
Barker’s KO win over Samuels back in 2006 was marred by controversy. Paul landed a right hand that caused Barker to place both gloves on the canvas; it seemed referee Dave Parris was going to step in only for Barker to hammer home a left hook to take Samuels out at 1:58 of the opening session. Smith feels that the third man was in the process of jumping in to administer a count when the final blow landed.
“The ref said stop to start the count for a knockdown against Darren in my opinion, he then caught Paul with a left hook and knocked him out so all of a sudden it went the other way. Paul’s a big puncher but in my opinion that’s all he has. When I start letting go we’ll see what he’s got because he’s been knocked out before,” predicted Smith, although he is also wary about t’other Paul’s heavy hands.
Adding: “I’ve got to stay mentally switched on, alert, active, get the job done and look good doing it. I just want to get out there and fight as regularly as I can.”
Smith, 30-2 (16), is all smiles in recent months, citing development under the stewardship of trainer Joe Gallagher as a big part of his planned title revival. In-house sparring with Callum Johnson has honed his skills, rounds with local warhorse Darren Stubbs also contributing to Smith’s pre-fight preparations.
“I’ve sparred Callum Johnson here in the gym and we’ve had Darren Stubbs come down a lot so we’ve done a lot of rounds with Darren as well, he’s a big, tough lad so it has been good,” stated ‘Smigga’.
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