Liverpool’s Liam Smith might be a strong favourite to retain his WBO World Super Welter strap in Manchester this weekend before advancing to unification fights in the New Year. However, there’s a swell of opinion mounting that’s he’s not even the best 11st fighter in his home city, writes Glynn Evans.
For many, only enforced inactivity caused by perennial hand injuries, has prevented super-talented Joey Selkirk from replicating ‘Beefy’ to the world dais.
‘I’m really made up for Liam. I’ve been good mates with both him and his brothers since we were kids boxing at the Rotunda (amateur gym) so we’ll never fight each other,’ says the quadruple national junior champion and 2007 ABA welterweight king who has won 13 straight in the pros.
‘It was a great win for Liam when he nailed his world title in October and I thought he put on a brilliant performance. He followed a top game plan and broke the Yank (New Jersey’s John Thompson) down systematically.
‘Watching ‘Beefy’ and my other amateur team mates such as his brother Stephen and ‘Bomber’ Bellew operating at world level always gives me a huge lift. But without being big headed, I know that my ability is every bit as good as all of ‘em.’
Last April at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Marbella based Selkirk delivered a welcome reminder of his audacious gifts to overwhelm Portugal’s useful Yuri Pompilio in six. Alas, he has been dormant since.
‘I thought I boxed reasonably well,’ recalls the Danny Vaughan trained prospect.
‘I started quick, working behind me jab and forced a good stoppage. I managed to get Yuri out of there faster than both Adam Etches and Liam Williams which was pleasing.
‘But on the downside, I broke another bone in me right hand in round two. Thankfully, it’s totally unrelated to the previous injuries I’ve incurred but I still had to stay off until after the summer. I can’t wait to get back in there.’
BoxNation subscribers and ticket purchasing pundits will be able to compare and contrast the Merseysiders this weekend when Smith and Selkirk co-feature on Frank Warrens epic Christmas jolly at Manchester Arena.
‘I’ve been pro seven years but Saturday will be only my 14th fight,’ states Selkirk who’ll be hoping to shed some rust against stocky Hungarian Zoltan Turai in a six rounder.
‘With Liam and Tommy Stalker also on the bill, there’ll be loads of Scouse support inside the Arena and I’ll be trying me best to remind them what I can do.
‘In 2016, the plan is to stay busy and get my hands on as many titles as I can. Essentially, I need the experience of a real hard 10 or 12 rounder, then I can really crack on.
‘The only thing that separates me and any other light-middleweight in this country is activity. I can’t just fight one 6 or 8 rounder every year. In the past, too often, I’ve been stuck in first year with just one hand.
‘But provided I come through in style on Saturday, I’ve been promised a title fight in February, possibly the WBO Inter-Continental against Gary Corcoran. He’s been talking a lot but that’d be a perfect fight for me. He’s tough and comes to scrap but he’s very limited.
‘I expect Liam Williams to add the vacant British title to his Commonwealth belt when he meets Kris Carslaw on Saturday’s bill. Liam’s a very talented fighter but I expect we’ll meet down the line and, now my hand’s holding up, I’m very confident I can beat anybody.’