By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
STEPHEN SMITH will dedicate his British featherweight title fight to his severely autistic sister Hollie.
He desperately wants to relieve John Simpson of the belt – and in doing so raise awareness of the disorder 10-year-old Hollie suffers from.
He meets Simpson, 27, in a top-of-the-bill clash at the Liverpool Olympia next Wednesday and admits Hollie is his inspiration.
“I want to win it for Hollie,” said Smith, 25.
“She has severe autism and that’s why myself and my brothers all have the word ‘autism’ clearly displayed on our shorts when we are in the ring.
“I will have Hollie’s name on the back of my shorts and it always works because, after televised fights, I have people coming up and asking me what it is all about. The more people who ask, the better we feel because it means that we are spreading the message about autism.
“She is a lovely girl and I dedicate all of my fights to her.
“To win the title and dedicate that to her would be great.”
The Scouser knows that Simpson will be a tough opponent who will be gunning for revenge.
Last September they clashed for the Commonwealth title, which Smith won via a split decision.
He said: “This time around, I want to remove any doubt at all, even though I know how good he is and just what he will bring.”
Smith broke his left hand in the early rounds and added: “If that hadn’t happened, the fight would never have been that close.
“This time I plan to beat him and beat him well.
“I want to erase any uncertainty. He doesn’t really know how I’m going to come out or what my game plan is.
“That variation I’m going to bring should shut a lot of critics up about the last fight who said it was close.
“What you see with John Simpson is what you get and if you’ve seen him once, then you’ve seen him a million times.
“He’s never going to come out and change his style.
“So, fingers crossed, the game plan I have for him will be perfect and it will be a good, solid performance.
“I’m aiming to finish the fight with that belt around my waist.”