Few people are giving Liam “Beefy” Smith 26-1-1 (14) a chance when he takes on newly-crowned WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia 29-0 (25) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night live on HBO.
But the British underdog says he isn’t concerned.
“I’ll be gutted if I don’t win this fight,” said Smith. “I am a little bit more hungry because a few people have written me off, so I’m gonna make them eat their words.
“It has given me a little bit of fire. I want to become world champion again.”
The 29-year-old Liverpudlian held the WBO title for almost a year in 2015-16, claiming the vacant strap against Newark, New Jersey’s John Thompson and defending it twice before losing his championship to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez when he was stopped by a body shot in the ninth.
Smith became the mandatory contender for the title after defeating archrival Liam Williams by majority decision last November. He was originally scheduled to face Miguel Cotto-conqueror Sadam Ali in May but was forced to withdraw after suffering from a skin condition believed to be caused by an allergy that prevented him from training for three weeks.
Smith’s infirmity opened the door for the little-known Munguia, a Mexican power-puncher with few recognisable names on his resume.
“Sadam Ali was in the right place, right time when he beat Miguel Cotto to win the title,” said Smith. “But I still thought he might have had too much nous for Munguia. I watched Munguia in February before there was talk of him fighting any of the names and classed him as a decent prospect who was coming through.
“Apart from Sadam, he hasn’t fought anyone of note. If you look at his record, there is not one other person there where you’d say, ‘look, he has beaten him’.
“The way the fight happened I wasn’t fully surprised because it was basically a middleweight against a welterweight.
“I am not small for a super welterweight though and that is one reason why I am not fazed by this. I’m big enough myself and confident in my own size.”
Despite the 21-year-old champion’s good fortune in winning the title, Smith insists he isn’t overlooking Munguia, who is riding a six fight knockout streak including.
“Munguia is a good fighter,” he said. “He is big for the weight and it doesn’t take a genius to see he can punch. He is one of these young, enthusiastic fighters who is trying to make a statement in every fight and he’s just getting better and better.
“It is winnable, but it is what a world title fight should be. I’m a challenger, on the road and it should be a tough fight.”