By Ben Jacobs
This Saturday night in Monte Carlo, Liverpool’s Stephen Smith (24-2, 14 KOs) has his second chance this year to win a world title when he challenges Jason Sosa (19-1-4, 15 KOs) for the WBA featherweight title.
‘Swifty’ dropped a decision to IBF champion José Pedraza back in April, nevertheless, he emerged with a lot of credit due to the performance he delivered against the Puerto Rican.
Smith’s trainer, Joe Gallagher spoke to BoxingScene.com on the week of the fight, offering his opinion on Sosa.
“I’ve watched some of his early fights and he’s like a rough diamond who has been polished as he’s gone along,” Gallagher opined. “He’s a hurtful puncher, a lot of his stoppages have been on body punches.
“I did think that Nicolas Walters beat him convincingly but he showed in that fight he had a lot of heart and a good chin. He never backed down and Walters had just got a good win over Nonito Donaire.
“He isn’t as skilled as José Pedraza who is more gifted and technical,” he continued.
“I think Sosa has a good chin, good left hook, good right hand and he comes square on. He’s had a good win on the road and he shows a lot of desire to win.”
Gallagher is of the belief that Smith will have benefited a great deal after having shared a ring with the classy Pedraza for 12 rounds.
“I think operating at the level with Pedraza and the training camp he had for that fight helps. He had a slow start then pulled himself back in the fight. He got caught in the ninth, was a bit greedy and Pedraza had his tail up in the later rounds. I was a bit disappointed that the scorecards didn’t reflect the good work Stephen did.
“Being in the ring with a class operator in Pedraza will have helped him. He knows himself he has to stay fully focused, if he switches off Sosa has power in either hand and he can take you out.”