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Stephen Smith Willing To Facing Miura For Title in Japan

Stephen Smith will instead face Mauricio Javier Munoz in next week's world title eliminator.

Smith was originally due to battle Fernando Saucedo, but the Argentine was forced out with a mouth injury and fellow countryman Munoz replaces him in Leeds next Wednesday, live on Sky Sports.

Munoz dropped a points decision to former IBF king Evgeny Gradovich last July and should supply a stern test for Smith, who is edging closer to a shot at WBC champion Takashi Muira.

An elbow injury forced Smith out of a March date, but the fit-again Liverpudlian is confident he can handle the late change, with the WBC silver belt up for grabs.

"The work I have put in there's no excuses," said Smith. "Of course it's frustrating that we now face someone we know little about but I am in fantastic shape and I will adapt, beat him and get another title.

"I snapped the corner of my elbow bone so I had a piece of floating bone, it was fine when I was punching which is why I still wanted to fight, but when I got hit on the arm there was a bit of pain.

"I had it X-rayed and they showed me the corner of the bone and they shaved some of the bone with a bit of keyhole surgery and it's fine now. I'm punching hard and when I get hit on it there's no problem and it won't be a problem in the future either.

"I was back in the gym after a couple of weeks and I'm more than ready to go.

"It's not nice when you are injured and you can't fight, but as soon as the operation was over I was happy because I knew that the pain would go away and I could move on at 100 percent and really put my foot down in pursuit of that world title."

Victory over Munoz could open the door for Smith to challenge Muira, who has fought only once outside Japan.

Rendall Munroe, the last Englishman to contest a world title in the Orient, lost on points to Toshiaki Nishioka in 2010, but Smith believes he could succeed where his countryman failed.

"I think this will put me next in line for the world title, if not maybe one more fight away so I just have to do my job tonight and I will be there or thereabouts," he said. "If I win and look impressive doing so I will be knocking on the door.

"If I am told 'pack your bags, you're going to Japan to fight Miura', it wouldn't be a problem. I'd be made up to be getting the opportunity.

"In the amateurs I fought all over the world, it'd be no different and I would go there to take the title from him in his back garden."

Smith's clash with Munoz is part of an exciting night of action as Josh Warrington defends his Commonwealth featherweight title against Martin Lindsay, with the vacant British belt also on the line.

Gavin McDonnell defends his British super-bantamweight title against Josh Wale and Tommy Coyle, Tyrone Nurse and Ricky Boylan also return to action.

Kal Yafai targets his first title as he meets Yaqub Kareem for the vacant Commonwealth super-flyweight belt, while younger brother Gamal Yafai makes his professional debut on the bill.

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