By Terence Dooley
Liverpool’s Stephen Smith believes that the quality sparring on tap at Gallagher’s Gym will result in a definitive win over domestic rival John Simpson, a fight that is set to take place in Liverpool on April 27th. ‘Swifty’ squeezed by Simpson in Scotland last September to snatch the Greenock man’s Commonwealth featherweight title via a split-decision.
The 25-year-old suffered a hand injury early in the fight and has not fought since that first major title win, he has also switched his training set-up, following older brother Paul to Joe Gallagher’s Denton-based, CNP sponsored camp. Smith feels that sparring sessions with EBU lightweight boss John Murray and recent Lonsdale lightweight titlist Anthony Crolla will provide him perfect preparation going into the make-or-break rematch with Simpson.
“Training is brilliant at the moment, great,” enthused Smith when speaking to The Liverpool Echo. “I had my first spars on Friday with John Murray and Anthony Crolla and on Monday I sparred with Stuart Hall. My fitness is spot on and we’ll get a game plan together and prove a point against Simpson this time.
“I was sparring Crolla before the first Simpson fight because of the way he can lay it on with the pressure although Anthony has a lot more variation and better shots. But if you look at my last three sparring partners, all of them are current or former British champions and in John’s case, a current European champion. I love it here, we are working on a technical stuff more and doing a lot of different things. There’s a lot more track running involved and we’ve been working as much defence as attack.”
Simpson, though, is typically bullish ahead of the fight, telling The Daily Record that he excels on the road. “It's in Liverpool but being away from home doesn't bother me in the slightest as I've proved I can do the business away. I'm going to pull out my best ever performance to win this and show I'm the best featherweight around,” insists the Billy Nelson-trained boxer.
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