Smith v Williams

By Frank Warren

The eagle-eyed among boxing fans quickly cottoned onto the fact that Liam Smith took part in a little sharpener in Barcelona at the weekend.

It turned out to be a shrewd move by Liam, who hasn’t seen action since losing his WBO world title to Canelo Alvarez in September. Even then he wasn’t operating at full throttle because his training was so severely disrupted by a cut sustained during preparations.

As many suspected on social media, the winning four-rounder against Marian Cazacu served a dual purpose. Not only did it assist Beefy towards his ultimate match fitness but it enabled his potentially epic encounter against Liam Williams on April 8 to have a global title tag attached to it.

The WBO have now sanctioned the all-British super-welterweight sizzler for their interim belt. The fact that Smith will not now be coming off a loss after his gutsy defeat to Canelo Alvarez removes a complication.

It is well documented that Canelo has plans to step up in weight so as Smith says, the winner of the upcoming contest in Manchester becomes a world champion in waiting, and we now have two world title scraps – making it a joint double-header.

I am delighted to have delivered this opportunity for these two outstanding fighters. It has all the ingredients to be a fight the year contender and now, with the added prize of the interim belt, there is more than just pride on the line for both. Now we could well see the winner of this becoming a recognised world champion.

But while we always like to raise the stakes for our fighters where we can, to my mind, this is not a fight that necessarily needed dressing up with labels.

It is simply a must-see fight for the fans and both Liams were happy to oblige.

I rate both fighters so highly and I just cannot see how the match up can fail to live up to expectations. There will be no quarter given when these two step into the ring and I can’t see it going the distance.

This one, along with champion Terry Flanagan taking on a really tough WBO world lightweight title assignment against Petr Petrov, really fits the bill for the much anticipated launch of BT Sport’s into boxing in tandem with BoxNation.

Flanagan v Petrov

With Terry taking on the Russian – ranked No.1 by the WBA and No.2 by the WBO – and Anthony Crolla entering into his rematch with Jorge Linares this weekend, future lightweight dates should become more apparent.

I obviously wish Crolla all the best in his attempt to turn the tables on Linares, but I don’t go along with the popular theory that we have already seen the best of the experienced Venezuelan.

I don’t believe he performed to his maximum last time around and Crolla will have it all to do even if he boxes to the exact same level.

I am just not sure what Crolla can bring to the ring to change the dynamic of the fight. He is a fine individual with a big heart, so hopefully he can find a way.

It is a great pity there is still seemingly no willingness on the part of Crolla’s team to entertain the prospect of a fight with Terry.

People talk about politics, but in some instances this is simply used as an excuse. When the fight was last being talked about I removed any obstacles that could have got in the way of the fight going ahead.

The fans in Manchester and beyond absolutely want to see Crolla in with Terry and they shouldn’t be cheated out of it.

It is true enough that Terry hasn’t got a future as a chat show host, he is just a genuine bloke who isn’t all mouth and trousers.

He is who he is and you’ve got to respect him for that.

Terry has got a tough, tough fight on his hands on April 8 and, should he deliver the result we expect him to, his next move will be a big one, but most likely without local bragging rights at stake.

Coming up next: Alan Hubbard’s Punchlines on why  Nicola Adams is now the biggest hit in women’s boxing.

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