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Liam Smith needs to take the risks to get the rewards

By Robbie Bannatyne:‘Without risk, there is no reward.’ There comes a time in every young, undefeated fighter’s career where this has to become the mantra by which they abide. That time has now arrived for Liam Smith (20-0-1) who knows that he needs to step up his level of competition to test how good he really is.

If Smith is a ship, then the domestic scene is his shore. A place of safety where he reigns supreme over all the other 154lb fighters. However, by listening to his post-fight interview with IFL TV after his 7th round destruction of a game but limited David Ezequiel Romero you can sense his frustration that he is still in the relatively shallow waters of the light middle weight division.

A decorated amateur and two time ABA champion in 2007-2008, he has taken that momentum into the professional game, picking up a litany of titles on the way. Although despite amassing the British, Commonwealth, WBO intercontinental and WBA continental light middleweight titles, you get the impression that Smith feels somewhat unfulfilled as a fighter. Maybe this is because he has suffered some injuries that unfortunately delayed his development, forcing him out the ring at times when all he wanted to do was fight.

Whatever the source of his perceived frustration, it is clear that he is eager to engage in a sink or swim scenario against a world level contender. He is fully aware that it is the only way he will find out if he can cope at the deep end of the light middleweight division.

He clearly believes he will thrive in that environment, and so do all the British boxing fans who have followed his career. Aside from the fact that he seems to be a perfectionist who is rarely fully pleased with his performance, what is more refreshing is that he refuses to sit on the fence. When asked who he wanted next, he could have easily hidden behind the typical ‘I’ll leave it to my trainer and promoter to decide on my next opponent’ line. Instead, he set his stall out, stating succinctly that he wants to face Carson Jones next. It is the acid test he craves and one his talent deserves.

In reality, the Carson Jones fight should be an easy one to make. The American fighter recently upset Brian Rose in Blackpool, via a brutal 1st round knockout, and he has twice lost to Kell Brook on British soil. So Jones clearly has no problem traveling across the Atlantic for a payday.

However, Barry Jones of Box Nation stated, whilst commentating on Smith’s recent win over Romero, that he would put ‘Beefy’ in with IBF champion Cornelius Bundrage right now. I would subscribe to that school of thought as well, and the financial clout of Frank Warren may just tempt the 42 year old into facing Smith in his next fight.

At 26 years old, Smith is approaching his peak as an athletic specimen and the next few years will be the most crucial of his career. Then again, for a boxer his biggest fight is always his next one. Regardless of whether it is Carson Jones or Cornelius Bundrage, Smith should strike while the iron is hot.

Riding on the crest of a five fight knockout streak, highly ranked by 3 of the 4 major sanctioning bodies- WBA #14, WBO #5 and IBF #3- there is no better time for Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith to take the bull by the horns and starting mixing it with the best 154lb fighters in the sport.

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Author Iveta Cherneva famously said that ‘history favours risk takers and forgets the timid’. My bets are that are Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith will, like the rest of his boxing brothers, want honour his famous fighting family name and be remembered after he hangs up his boxing gloves.

I really look forward to reading your comments.

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