By Jake Donovan
Liam Smith heads into his upcoming vacant super welterweight title fight with John Thompson with an undefeated record and hometown advantage of sorts. Their clash will take place October 10 in Manchester, England, roughly an hour-long drive from Smith’s hometown of Liverpool.
The one real advantage he plans to maintain over the next few weeks, though, is the mindset that Thompson is the most dangerous fighter on the planet.
“He's a good fighter, and I'd be daft to overlook anyone for a world title,” Smith admits of his upcoming title challenge, which is part of a card that continues to take shape.
The event was to be originally topped by middleweight titlist Andy Lee’s rescheduled mandatory defense versus undefeated Billy Joe Saunders. The bout was scratched from the show and postponed for a second time, this instance due to Saunders suffering a cut during a recent sparring session.
Even Smith’s placement on the show came against a different intended opponent. The unbeaten Brit—whose brothers Paul (a two-time title challenger), Stephen and Callum are also pro fighters—was originally slated to face Michel Soro, but the resurgent contender from France was pulled from the show after an inability to settle an internal promotional dispute.
Thompson (17-1, 6KOs) was quick to answer the call to fill in, not unlike the manner in which he was a surprise entrant in the ESPN Boxcino 154 lb. tournament earlier this year. Still, Smith knows better than to expect a last minute effort from his new challenger.
“It's not a last minute replacement,” Smith (20-0-1, 11KOs) notes of what lies ahead. “John Thompson has seven weeks to train, which is enough for any fighter.
“I have a different fight on my hands. I'd be silly to say it's an easier fighter. It's a world title fight. I expect the best John Thompson. He's going to be at his best because I know I'm going to be at my best. If I'm not at my best for a world title fight, then I shouldn't be there.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.
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