SWIFTY ON PEDRAZA FIGHT: “I’M IN A REALLY GOOD PLACE MENTALLY AND I COULDNT BE FEELING BETTER GOING INTO IT.”

Stephen ‘Swift’ Smith has waited a long time to eventually secure his world title shot. The Liverpool super-featherweight has remained unbeaten for four and half years and 11 fights, since his sole defeat to Barry’s Lee Selby at featherweight in 2011.

Since stepping up a division after that loss, Smith (23-1, 13KOs) from Liverpool and a sibling of the four fighting Smith brothers has won the British title (two weight champion) and then took the WBC silver super-featherweight title in May 2014, and secured himself a world title fight. The long wait for his big chance at world glory takes place this Saturday night against IBF junior lightweight title holder, the talented switch hitting Puerto Rican Jose ‘Sniper’ Pedraza at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut, USA.

The two fighters came face to face yesterday at the press conference in New York, where both spoke with confidence and pose that added an extra buzz to an already intriguing fight.

Pedraza claimed the belt last June with a points win over Russian Andrey Klimov and has since defended it against Edner Cherry in a close contest that ended in a split decision. The new champion was a top class amateur, he represented his country at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and went on to win a silver at the 2009 World Championships.

Smith was also a top amateur boxer, ABA champion and also won a gold medal representing Great Britain at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in a distinguished career before turning professional in June 2008. The Scouse challenger is away from home and up against it, in with a new ambitious champion, but Smith is unfazed and ready to do a job and bring the belt back over the Atlantic with him, joining brother Liam as a second world champion in the family.

“It’s special. Two weeks ago Callum won a European title and Liam is a world champion and it just gives me the confidence and spirit.” said Smith.

“I’m in a really good place mentally and I couldn’t be feeling better going into it. After my training camp going successfully, it just makes you feel better going ahead to become a world champion.”

Smith is comfortable fighting abroad, he has done it many times as an amateur and knows winning the belt in America will enhance his reputation more, and although Smith admits Pedraza has good pedigree, he is confident he can take his title.

“I’m excited. If you want to make a name in boxing, then you’re going to do it in the states and that’s what I plan on doing by becoming a world champion Saturday.”

“I don’t know a lot about Pedraza.” added Smith. “I know his name from the amateur days. He’s well established, he’s an Olympian and he’s a talented man. To fight somebody consists of winning or not, it goes beyond tactics, beyond style and beyond skill set really. I believe I have what it takes to fight anyone and nothing will keep me from becoming a world champion.”

“It can be a different type of fight, we know he likes to switch it up and box from different stances. He’s obviously talented so it’s going to take a different set from each way but we know what to expect. I’ve gone over everything with my trainer Joe Gallagher and we’re ready to go.”

Speaking at the recent press conference for the fight, champion Pedraza shown Smith respect but suggested he was a level above his UK challenger and is expecting to neutralise his challengers abilities and retain his title.

“I am feeling really good, we’re in the last stretch of conditioning. It was a very long and intense training camp but we saw improvements in my abilities. I have been waiting a long time for this day to come and we are going to demonstrate to Smith that I am a weapon.” said Pedraza.

“Smith is a very good boxer, he has a lot of abilities and intelligence. He’s a boxer with very good defense, but we already utilize a variety of strategies to be able to neutralize all of his abilities.”

“With my abilities, come Saturday, I will demonstrate that I am above Smith and that I am at the level of what I am, a champion. Overall, I just want to put on a show and I hope that the fan base will enjoy this great card.”

If Smith takes the win, he will arrive back in Britain as the 13th current UK world champion joining…

  • Jamie McDonnell – WBA Bantamweight champion (28-2-1, 13KOs)
  • Lee Haskins – IBF Bantamweight champion (32-3, 14KOs)
  • Carl Frampton – IBF Super-bantamweight champion (22-0, 14KOs)
  • Lee Selby – IBF Featherweight champion (23-1, 8KOs)
  • Anthony Crolla – WBA Lightweight champion (30-4-3, 12KOs)
  • Terry Flanagan – WBO Lightweight champion (30-0, 12KOs)
  • Kell Brook – IBF Welterweight champion (36-0, 25KOs)
  • Liam Smith – WBO Super-welterweight champion (22-0-1, 12KOs)
  • Billy Joe Saunders – WBO Middleweight champion (23-0, 12KOs)
  • James DeGale – IBF Super-middleweight champion (22-1, 14KOs)
  • Anthony Joshua – IBF Heavyweight champion (16-0, 16KOs )
  • Tyson Fury – WBA, WBO Heavyweight champion (25-0, 18KOs )

Smith will have to perform to his very best, but he is in with a very good shout of becoming our latest champion. It may take him a few rounds to get into it and suss out Pedraza’s unorthodox switch hitting tactics, but Swifty has power and if he starts building up his body attacks and cutting off the ring to immobile the champion, we could all be celebrating a monumental and historic win for the Smith family and British sport.

Goodluck Stephen, bring that title back home, we are rooting for you! – British Boxers

What is Smith up against?

Jose Pedraza – Is a Puerto Rican professional boxer. As an amateur he represented Puerto Rico, winning medals in multiple international competitions. Among the awards achieved by Pedraza are a bronze medal at the 2007 Pan American Games, silver at the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships and gold at the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, as well as participation in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Pedraza debuted as a professional in February 2011, winning the World Boxing Council’s Super Featherweight Youth World Championship in only his sixth fight.

Jose “Sniper” Pedraza – Highlights / Knockouts Video

You can watch Pedraza vs Smith live on Sky Soprts on Saturday night / Sunday morning

Stephen Smith in New York and ready to rule the world at super-featherweight