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Liam Smith ready to impress against Sam Eggington

David Price

By Tim Royner: Liam Smith will be looking to put on an dazzling performance this Saturday night on DAZN and Sky Sports against Sam Eggington, and then hopefully have another go against WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia, who beat him last July. Smith, 30, being put in with Eggington (24-5, 16 KOs) is a considerable step down from the type of fighters he’s been mixing it with.

Smith is being given a confidence booster in facing domestic level fighter Eggington rather being matched at least world class fringe contender that would like to have seen him put in with.

Smith (26-2-1, 14 KOs) is coming off of a disappointing defeat against Munguia, and he feels he can beat that guy with some momentum behind him. This Saturday’s fight against 25-year-old Eggington should help Smith to sharpen up to get ready for another title shot against Munguia in the near future.

This will be a return home for Liverpool native Smith, as he’s been fighting elsewhere for his last five fights. The last time Smith fought in Liverpool was in 2016 when he successfully defnded his World Boxing Organization 154 lb title in stopping challenger Predrag Radosevic in the second round. Smith is 9-0 when fighting in Liverpool, and there’s a good chance he’ll go 10-0 on Saturday.

“I’m older now, more mature,” Liam Smith said in reflecting back on his loss to Saul Canelo Alvarez back in 2016. “I should have never taken that fight.”

Smith was 27-years-old when he fought the 25-year-old Canelo Alvarez. If Smith had turned the fight down, it would have looked bad in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans. Golden Boy Promotions likely would have given Smith another shot at fighting Canelo. At least in taking the fight, Smith can say he was involved in a big stadium fight against one of the best fighters in boxing, even if he did wind up getting stopped by him in the ninth round. It was a competitive fight through the first six rounds of the affair. What led to Smith losing was he gassed out after the first six rounds, and Canelo took advantage of that by pressing the action. Smith wanted to start quickly and he did a good job of doing that. But like in his loss to Munguia, Smith’s conditioning let him down in the second part of the fight, and this led to Canelo taking over completely in scoring knockdowns in rounds seven, eight and nine.

“With activity, with Matchroom, I feel like I’m good enough to become world champion again,” Smith said. “I know Jaime Munguia is a world champion. I feel like I’ve got the beating of him with momentum behind me,” Smith said.

Smith is ranked #13 with the World Boxing Organization at this time. It’s probably going to take a while for him to be ranked high enough to get a rematch with WBO 154 lb champion Munguia (32-0, 26 KOs). Unless Matchoom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn starts putting Smith in with better opposition, and having him fight a lot more frequently, it could take three to four years before “Beefy” Smith is able to work his way into another title shot against Munguia. Whether the Mexican knockout artist is still the WBO champion by that point is anyone’s guess. Munguia looked vulnerable in winning his last fight against Takaeshi Inoue last January. Munguia took a lot of shots in beating a limited fighter by a grueling 12 round unanimous decision on January 26. Munguia has already fought twice since his win over Liam in July of last year. That kind of activity is what Smith should be looking for if he wants to get quickly ranked #1 with the WBO again, since Golden Boy Promotions likely won’t pick him out a voluntary challenger for Munguia to fight in the near future. There are too many other contenders for Munguia to fight for him to be going over old ground in fighting Smith again. To get a rematch against Munguia, Smith will need to become the WBO mandatory, and that’s going to take ages if he’s only going to be fighting once ever eight months against domestic opposition like Eggington instead of world class fighters.

“It’s my first fight back in Liverpool in a number of years now,” Smith said. “From the outside looking in, there’s a lot of pressure on me. A lot of people are going to pick me to win this fight, but I don’t feel pressure. I feel like it’s my pro debut all over again. Someone told me the other day I’m 9-0 at the Echo Arena. So I think that’s a good open for me. I’m really excited going back to Liverpool,” said Smith.

Smith has fought a lot in Liverpool during his 11-year pro career, but unfortunately he’s not faced anyone really talented. They’ve mostly been domestic level fighters without much talent. It would be nice if Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn could bring over someone like Erislandy Lara, Julian ‘J-Rock’ Williams, Kell Brook, Sergio Garcia or Jeff Horn, Magomed Kubanov, Erickson Lubin, Maciej Sulecki or Carlos Adames. Those are the type of fighters that Smith needs to be facing rather than being put in with the Eggington types. That’s doing Smith a great disservice for him to be brought back to the elementary stages of his career just because he lost a competitive fight against Munguia in his last outing.

“I feel I have a lot to prove to people,” Smith said. “I feel like I can still become a world champion. So I’m looking to make a big statement. I’ve got to do a proper job on Sam and a proper job. This is a new lease of life for me and exactly what I needed at this stage of my career,” Smith said.

Smith doesn’t seem to mind too much that he’s being put in with a guy that is well below him. Beating Eggington won’t mean much if Smith isn’t able to move forward with his career and prove that he can cut it against the best in the 154 lb division. Smith has stepped up twice during his career against good opposition and he’s been found wanting. Smith can fight 100 Eggington types and preach about how he has a “new lease on life”, but if he can’t cut the mustard against the elite level fighters, then it’s pointless. Munguia isn’t really elite, and Smith still lost to him. Smith isn’t getting younger, so he can’t afford to let Matchroom put him in with too many Eggington type opponents if he wants to get another title shot before he ages out.

Following a loss to Bradley Skeete in 2016, Eggington’s career was looking good with him winning four consecutive fights that included huge victories over Paulie Malignaggi and Frankie Gavin. Things fell apart in October 2017 with Eggington losing to Mohamed Mimoune by a 12 round split decision. After winning two fights against soft opposition, Eggington was destroyed in two rounds by Hassan Mwakinyo last September. That defeat was a crushing blow for Eggington’s career. Before that loss, Eggington was a ranked fringe contender at junior middleweight. But the bottom has fallen out of Eggington’s career, and he’s now looking to pick up the broken pieces so he can try and his way back to where he was before.

Smith and Eggington will be battling it out in a 12 round contest in the main event on DAZN. The undercard has some interesting fights involving former British/Commonwealth heavyweight champion David Price (23-6, 19 KOs) facing Kash Ali (15-0, 7 KOs) in a 10 round make or break fight for the 35-year-old Price. Despite a number of bad losses for Price, he’s not ready hang up his gloves. He still believes he’s capable of getting that one big fight that will make it worthwhile. If Price were matched well enough for him to get a top five ranking at heavyweight, he probably could get a title shot against IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. But Price’s management has done him no favors whatsoever in putting him in with the likes of Sergey Kuzmin and Alexander Povetkin in back to back fights in 2018. You can argue that it was a crime to have Price fight either of those guys, but especially back to back.

If you’re trying to build someone up to get him some life-changing money in a world title shot against Joshua, it’s not a good idea to have Price fighting those guys. Price is still capable of being brought along for a title shot, but it’s going to require a lot of good match-making for the next two to three years for him to get a high enough ranking to get a title shot. With the way that Price has been matched, he’ll likely be thrown into a fight with someone too powerful, and he’ll wind up getting knocked out again. Kash Ali is the perfect type of opponent for Price to shine against, and to build confidence. Price needs these type of fighters to work his conditioning, and to build up some badly needed confidence. Price has had too many hard fights in the last seven years against the likes of Christian Hammer, Povetkin, Kuzmin, Tony Thompson and Erkan Teper.

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