Liverpool’s unbeaten WBO light-middle boss Liam Smith invested a few hours on reconnaissance in the wee hours of Sunday morning, scrutinising his three rival 154lb belt holders as they performed before BoxNation cameras at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Here is ‘Beefy’s’ expert take on the champions who presently stand between him and his dream of unifying the division.
By Glynn Evans
Jermell Charlo (WBC champion)
‘I actually thought Jermell was losing the fight with John Jackson before he turned the fight around in the eighth. He allowed Jackson to pot shot him and steal the rounds.
‘That was weird to see because I consider Jermell the better technician of the twins. He’s very big at 154 (lbs) and very upright. He’s got a good jab and does everything correctly.
‘However, he’s a bit basic and, though he turned the Jackson fight with one right hand and scored an impressive stoppage win, he’s quite negative.’
Jermall Charlo (IBF champion)
‘I was impressed with the way he defended his title against Austin Trout, who’s a very capable and awkward southpaw. Jermall dominated and landed the cleaner shots in what was a good, competitive fight to watch. I was a bit mystified when, at the end, Trout told commentators that he thought he deserved the decision. Charlo won clearly.
‘ Overall, I’d say he’s the better of the brothers but he’s the rival champion I’d most prefer to fight, the one who’d suit me better stylewise, because he takes more chances and therefore would leave more openings for me to exploit.
‘Though he went to points this time, I definitely consider Jermall the more dangerous of the brothers. He’s got the heavier hands. However, he’s not the best technically and I believe he struggles with weight.’
Erislandy Lara (WBA champion).
‘I backed Lara to win a clear unanimous decision and also backed Jermell by stoppage and Jermall on points so I cleaned up on all three!
‘This was a typical Lara performance. Some say he’s boring to watch but he’s a class act who’s exceptional at what he does. I’m a massive boxing fan and could study him for hours. He’s definitely number one in the division at the minute. He’s not the most exciting but he’s very hard to beat.
‘His challenger (Vanes) Martirosyan was in shape but had no method, very predictable; left hook to the body, right hand to the head. Lara just pinged him and stepped off. It was so easy for him. To trouble Lara you have to either stay glued to his chest or wait and force him to come to you.
‘I’d love a crack at unifying against any of the other belt holders or big names any time after my second (WBO) defence in Liverpool on 4th June. I’ve every faith in Daniel (Kinahan, his manager) and Frank (Warren, his promoter) delivering for me. If ‘Canelo’ (Alvarez) returns to 154 now he’s vacated his WBC middleweight belt, he’d be a perfect fight for me!’
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