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World champion Liam Smith is hungry to take on boxing’s biggest names including Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto.

The Merseyside maverick will make the first defence of his WBO light-middleweight world title, which he captured from John Thompson in spectacular fashion in October when he stopped the American inside seven rounds.

He now takes on the undefeated Jimmy Kelly exclusively live on BoxNation this Saturday night from the Manchester Arena and though he is not overlooking the Manchester man he has ambitions of sharing the ring with the division’s leading names.

“I know Kelly is going to go into the ring thinking this is his big chance but I’m not going to give him an inch in the fight,” said Smith.

“I have big ambitions and I’m not going to be foolish to overlook the threat he will bring. There are some major fights for me if I come through this one and certainly Miguel Cotto is right up there as one of the names I want to face.

“Cotto’s been a great champion and to share the ring with him and beat him will take me to that next level. I definitely believe I have what it takes to overcome him because my style would cause him some big problems,” he said.

27-year-old Smith, who has a record of 21 wins unbeaten with 11 KOs, is also interested in unifying the 154-pound division with WBA champion Erislandy Lara and undefeated IBF titleholder Jermall Charlo on the list of future targets.

“2016 is going to be an even better year for me,” said Smith. “This year has been amazing by getting a shot at the world title and winning it but the next year can be something even more special.

“I’m in this sport to face the best and if the opportunity presents itself I would love to unify the titles against either Erislandy Lara or Jermall Charlo next year. Fans want to see the best fights and having all the champions face each other makes sense.

“I believe I can beat anyone in the division and I want to go in there and prove it,” he said.

Tickets for Lee v Saunders and Smith v Kelly priced from £40 are available from frankwarren.com, ticketmaster.co.uk, eventim.co.uk and manchester-arena.co.uk

Watch exclusively live on BoxNation. – Go to boxnaion.com to subscribe.