By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
STEPHEN SMITH believes he will have to earn his shot to be third time lucky in a world title fight.
The Liverpool super-featherweight put in a brave display against WBA champion Jason Sosa at the plush Salle des Etoiles venue in Monaco.
But he came up short as the American claimed a deserved unanimous points win to retain his belt for the first time as Smith lost his second world title fight in seven months after defeat by IBF champion Jose Pedraza in April.
Smith’s promoter Eddie Hearn wants to get a rematch for his man back on Merseyside and Sosa has already offered Smith another crack.
But the gutted Scouser, who needed six stitches in a nasty cut over his right eye that nearly halted the bout, offered an honest appraisal of his display following the bruising battle.
He said:” When I fought Pedraza, the same was said ‘you’ve done yourself proud’, but I didn’t come here for that, I came to become a world champion.
“I’m bitterly disappointed. I kept my discipline, but I had a bad start again and I always felt like I was chasing the fight.
“I’m in boxing to become a world champion, so I’d love another chance, but I can’t expect just to get one, I’ve got to work hard for it.
“I’d love a rematch in Liverpool. He came in the dressing room afterwards with his coach and they said they would love to do it again.”
Hearn said: “I’d like to do it again in Liverpool, it was a great fight and Stephen showed tremendous heart. He lost to Pedraza and now this - he’s had two world title fights in seven months.
“I’d like to see him go on because he’s still fresh and keep plugging away to get that third world title shot over the line.”
Smith, who lost to Pedraza in April on points, got off to a disastrous start to his second world title crack in his 27th professional outing.
The 31-year-old puncher was down in the second after Sosa appeared to catch him as he was stepped on his toe which took away the challenger’s balance.
Smith was then cut in the third after a clash of heads even though Puerto Rican referee Roberto Ramirez Jnr did not indicate what caused the gash.
The ringside doctor warned Smith he could stop the fight which meant he had to go to war with Sosa but his cut man Mick Williamson did a fine job to stem the blood flow until later in the fight.
Sosa was just that bit stronger and smarter than Smith as he took everything the challenger had and returned with slightly better work.
The scorecards of 117-110, 116-112 and 116-111 were too wide, but Smith did not offer any excuses.
Jamie McDonnell retained his WBA bantamweight crown in controversial fashion after he was given a wide win over Venezuelan puncher Liborio Solis.
The judges gave it 116-112, 115-113 and 117-111 to the defending champion even though it was a close encounter that could have gone to the challenger.
McDonnell will now move up to super-bantamweight as he searches for bigger fights.
But twin brother Gavin is set to get a super-bantamweight world title shot first as he moves into position to face Hugo Ruiz for the WBC title, which is expected to be vacated by Japan’s retiring Hozumi Hasegawa.