17th September 2011

Stephen Smith makes the first defence of the his British title tonight against Lee Selby in front of his home fans at Liverpool’s Olympia. Smith’s Commonwealth title will also on the line.

Smith 26, (12-0, 6KOs) is under no illusions about this tricky voluntary defence of the Lonsdale belt he won in April by beating John Simpson and as left no stone unturned in his preparations for Selby’s style, by getting in a selection of switch hitting sparring partners from Sheffield.

The champion knows it may take a few rounds to suss out Selby (10-1, 2KOs) but has promised to catch up with his Welsh challenger in the end.

“I’ve done a lot of sparring with some lads from the Ingle gym because they are always awkward, elusive and hard to hit – like Selby and I don’t want to be getting frustrated with him on the night,” said Smith.

“Some rounds have been nightmares but in others I’ve definitely got to grips with them. Selby has got a good reach, has an awkward style and has good speed.

“His plan will be to keep on the move and frustrate me by boxing at range.

“He won’t want much up close. He’ll straight away be out of reach and then look to grab hold and maul when I get close and push my head down.

“But I’m very confident in my ability at range and know I can out box him. But in the end, it may come down to strength.

“The two fights I had against John Simpson were a blessing in disguise because people seem to be forgetting I can punch.

“Just because John Simpson takes you the distance twice, that does not mean you can’t punch because there are not many tougher him. I had him in more trouble than anyone has and I know my punch is still in there. And when Selby’s chin is in the air I know I can take him out.

“I’ll use my experience and I know I’m a level above Selby. I took confidence from the Simpson wins because I answered all the questions when things were not going my way. Nothing has yet been asked of Lee Selby.” added Smith.

Selby 24, is equally has confident that he can cause an upset and claim Smith’s belts be it by outboxing the champion or knocking him out if that’s what it takes to claim a momentous victory away from home.

“If he wants to box, I’ll out box him and if he wants to fight then I’ll beat him up,” said Selby.

“Smith is flat footed and in his last two fights with John Simpson tired in the second half so is not as fit as he makes out.

“If my trainer wants an early night then I’ll knock Smith out.”

Selby the current Celtic champion has never been beyond 6 rounds in his career to date, whilst Smith has completed the 12 round championship distance in his last two outings, but this doesn’t worry the Barry man, who says he has done it in the gym many times and feels stronger at this weight after moving down.

“I’m down at the lower weight and feeling strong with it,” said Selby, eight stone 13 and a half pounds yesterday.

“I’ve not gone 12 rounds competitively but have done it over and over again in the gym so has no worries about that.”

Our Prediction: Selby will prove to be has awkward has Smith believes and the early rounds could go back and fourth with not much to split em. But I believe Smith high experience in the amateur ranks and the experience he has had so far in the pros and proving he can go a hard 12 rounds at a big pace, will give him the confidence to bide his time and eventually track Selby down and force a stoppage in round 9.

By Chris Maylett

This Frank Warren promoted show is to be shown Live on SkySports 1 at 10pm, tickets to attend the Olympia show can be purchased at the Frank Warren website here:
www.frankwarren.tv/index.php/tickets.html?view=store&ck=10

Olympia Fight running order.

Fight 1 – 20:00 hrs
4 X 3 Minute Rounds Light-Welterweight Contest
LEWIS REES vs. TBA

Fight 2
6 X 3 Minute Rounds Super-Flyweight Contest
PAUL BUTLER vs. DELROY SPENCER

Fight 3
6 X 3 Minute Rounds Welterweight Contest
LIAM SMITH vs. BARRIE JONES

Fight 4
6 X 3 Minute Rounds Super-Middleweight Contest
ROCKY FIELDING vs. PAUL MORBY

SKY LIVE BROADCAST COMMENCES @ 22:00 HRS

Fight 5 – 22:05 hrs (LIVE)
THE BRITISH & COMMONWEALTH FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
12 X 3 Minute Rounds at 9st (126lbs)
STEPHEN SMITH vs. LEE SELBY

Fight 6 – Follow on (LIVE)
8 X 3 Minute Rounds Super-Middleweight Contest
PAUL SMITH vs. PAUL SAMUELS

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