By Frank Warren, courtesy of The Daily Star
LIAM SMITH is close to his shot at WBO light-welterweight champion Sadam Ali and it’s a chance he deserves.
The Liverpool fighter had the WBO belt until he bravely put it on the line against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Texas in 2016.
But since he lost the title that night, Smith has been working hard to get back to the top of the division.
He came through two tough fights against Welshman Liam Williams to earn his place as the No.1 contender for the WBO belt.
With Alvarez having given up the title, Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto got his hands on it and that is who Smith was hunting down.
But then American Ali caused a shock by ending Cotto’s reign and put the ring legend into retirement late last year.
So while many in the UK may not know much about the current WBO champion, the fact he has beaten someone of Cotto’s calibre tells you all about the task facing Smith on May 12.
But ‘Beefy’ is up for the challenge, that’s for sure.
Smith has never shied away from a fight and is happy to travel to New York to take on the defending champion.
He has been a joy to promote and I hope he can achieve what he deserves – and that is becoming a two-time world champion.
In the early hours of Sunday in New York, Belfast boy Michael Conlan continues his rise up the featherweight ranks.
This is his sixth professional fight and people are excited about what he can do in the paid ranks.
There is no doubt he has the potential to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Wayne McCullough and Carl Frampton – two of Ireland’s finest.
Conlan takes on Hungarian David Berna at Madison Square Garden on St Patrick’s Day but the Irish are desperate to see him in action at home.
American promoters Top Rank are doing a great job with him but if he wants to fight in Belfast this summer there may be a card at Windsor Park and I’d be delighted to get him on it.