Friday, 22 October 2021

England’s Smith, Ghana’s Mensah seek world boxing crowns

LAS VEGAS: Former world champion Liam Smith of England and unbeaten top-ranked contender Rafael Mensah of Ghana each attempt to dethrone undefeated world boxing champions in a Saturday card at Las Vegas.

Smith, 26-1-1 with 14 knockouts, fights outside Europe for only the second time in his Vegas debut when he faces Jaime Munguia, 29-0 with 25 knockouts, for the 21-year-old Mexican’s World Boxing Organization junior middleweight title.

“To go to Vegas and fight for a world title is every fighter’s dream,” Smith said. “But it’s only an extra incentive to my main motivation –- getting that WBO world junior middleweight title back around my waist.”

Six days before his 30th birthday, the Liverpool native will try and recapture the WBO crown he took from John Thompson with a seventh-round stoppage at Manchester in 2015.

Smith defended the title twice before surrendering it to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a knockout loss in Texas in 2016. He’s won three fights since and after pulling out of a May fight with Sadam Ali due to illness finds himself with another chance at the crown.

“Munguia is obviously a dangerous puncher and I’ll have to be wary of him early on, but he has never fought someone as good as me and a fully-fledged 154-pound fighter,” Smith said.

“I can’t afford to look an inch past Munguia though. He’s world champion for a reason. With such a high knockout percentage I’m going to have to be my best ever. Unfortunately for Munguia, that’s what I’ll be.”

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