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Liam Smith slaughters Jimmy Kelly

By Scott Gilfoid: Making a voluntary defense of his WBO 154lb strap, champion Liam Smith (22-0-1, 12 KOs) defeated challenger Jimmy Kelly (16-1, 7 KOs) by a 7th round TKO on the undercard of the Andy Lee vs. Billy Joe Saunders card at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.

The referee stopped the fight with Kelly looking completely out of it in the 7th round. Kelly was hurt from having taken some big hooks to the head moments before the stoppage, leaving the referee Marcus McDonnell little choice but to stop the contest.

Kelly, 23, turned Billy Goat in the 6th round, when he lowered his head and rammed Smith with a beautiful textbook version of a head-butt. It was a head-butt that was just picture perfect but highly illegal. The referee McDonnell quickly stepped in and stopped the action to take two points off from Kelly for the head-butt.

Smith was getting the better of Kelly in every round in working him over with hurtful body shots and nice hooks to the head. Kelly was firing back at all times, but he just didn’t have the punching power to get Smith to back off and respect him the way he needed him to. If Kelly had world class punching power, I think he would have had Smith in all kinds of trouble in this fight.

In the 3rd round, Smith was really teeing off on Kelly and I thought for a second that the fight might get stopped in that round. Kelly was taking too many hard punches, and he didn’t have the fire power to get Smith to back off. I mean, Kelly was landing with everything he threw, but he just did not have the punching power to hurt Smith. The taller 6’0″ Kelly’s shots were bouncing off the head of the 5’9 1/2″ Smith all fight long, and that’s not because Smith’s chin is so great. It’s because Kelly couldn’t crack eggs with his shots. The power just wasn’t there.

This fight was surprisingly competitive considering that Smith selected a bottom feeder to fight instead of one of the talents like #3 WBO Austin Trout or #4 WBO Demetrius Andrade. Those guys are like devastating mile-wide asteroids heading Liam Smith’s way and there’s not much he’s going to be able to do once they get to him other than take the impacts. But in the meantime, I think Smith will do well in beating matched up against guys like Kelly and whoever else comes next. My guess is it will be another low ranked contender that has little chance of winning.

All in all, it was great match-making for Smith’s promoter to have selected a soft touch like Kelly for him to defend his title against rather than a talent that could potentially beat him and beat him bad. With this kind of match-making, Smith is nearly unbeatable. The problem is that Smith will eventually have to fight one of the talents like Andrade and Trout, and when that happens I think he’s going to lose his WBO title.

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