By Elliot Foster
Stephen Smith has insisted that he will not be travelling to Puerto Rico for his world title challenge in the New Year.
The Liverpool super featherweight, who is the mandatory challenger to IBF champion José Pedraza (21-0, 12 KOs), is safe in the knowledge that his next fight is going to be for global honours.
But the 30-year-old (23-1, 13 KOs) has said that he will not have the task of going into the holder’s back yard for the clash.
BoxingScene’s Miguel Rivera reported on Sunday that the world title showdown between Pedraza and Smith is being eyed as one leg of a championship triple-header in the defending titlist's backyard, promoted by Peter Rivera of Puerto Rico Best Boxing.
“I saw [the story about maybe going to Puerto Rico],” Smith told Boxing Scene in response, “and I phoned [promoter] Eddie [Hearn] straight away to find out what was going on.
“He told me that we had an agreement that I would not be going to Puerto Rico and it wouldn’t be on February 20, which was the first date that they came back with.
“I’ve been told for the past three weeks that we’ll know what’s happening ‘this week’ and ‘this week’ has come and gone three times.”
‘Swifty’ stopped Italy’s Devis Boschiero in a final eliminator for the number one spot inside five rounds in his home city back in September and is pretty relaxed about waiting until the opportunity to trade leather with Pedraza eventually turns up.
“I’m not overly fussed,” ‘Swifty’ continued, “because I know that my next fight will be for that world title.
“It’s more of an annoyance than anything, because I want to know the date myself and I’ve got friends and family ringing me by the second, looking to book something, and I’m sick of telling them that I don’t know anything yet. I just keep saying: ‘I’ll know soon.’
“It’s looking like the first two weeks in March and as of today I’m back in camp fully after enjoying the Christmas period with the kids and ticking over at the Rotunda [in Liverpool].
“I’ve been told either March 5, which is what I’m aiming for, or March 12, with America –– and possibly New York –– the most likely location, but I’m hoping to find out something concrete soon so that I can zero in and focus on the massive challenge.
“But one thing’s for sure, my fans won’t have to go to Puerto Rico on February 20 to watch me fight for that world title.”