15th March 2012

Liam Smith with his team – By Al Stevenson
Liverpool’s rising welterweight prospect Liam Smith picked up some vital experience when doing eight-threes with Paul Morby on the undercard of Nathan Cleverly’s WBO light-heavyweight title defence against Tommy Karpency at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena on February 25.  Smith agreed to take on the 32-year-old former Southern Area super-middleweight titlist on a day’s notice after his original opponent pulled out. 

Although Smith could not tuck Morby away, he dominated every round with his jab, left hooks to the head and fierce body shots.  Morby may have been stopped by Kenny Anderson and Frank Buglioni in recent times, in the third and first respectively, but he also extended Rocky Fielding and Tony Jeffries the distance during a busy 2011.  Indeed, Jeffries was heavily criticised for his performance against Morby as he failed to pin down the slippery journeyman. 

Smith did more than pin Morby down, he landed with impunity and looked close to registering a stoppage only for his Portsmouth-based foe to make it to the final bell and a 69-80 loss on referee Clarke Joslyn’s card.

‘Beefy’ had asked for rounds in the bank going into the contest, he believes that he is better for the experience and that the rounds against Morby will hold him in good stead should he secure a British welterweight title showdown against the winner of Colin Lynes versus Junior Witter. 

“Morby is a tricky fighter,” said Smith.  “He was heavier (than Smith’s usual opponents), but I preferred taking him on than some kid they’ve brought from overseas who is going to go early.  All credit to Paul Morby, I wouldn’t disrespect him by talking about wanting the stoppage – I’m just happy that I got a good eight rounds in. 

“I was 163[lbs], he was 162, I was heavier than my weigh-in weight on the night, but I’m a welterweight stepping up and he’s a super-middleweight stepping down.  Morby is a big lad.  I took it because I knew I’d get the rounds.  I got phone calls asking what I was doing (by taking on Morby), but I just wanted to fight.” 

The Liverpudlian is becoming Britain’s equivalent of Mike ‘Bodysnatcher’ McCallum, a technically sound fighter who can also dip his knees and sink shots home to the body.  Smith has creased his last three opponents with lefts to the ribs; he also hammered in right hands to the stomach against Morby. 

“I’ve always tried to work the body,” said the 23-year-old.  “If you hit the body the head goes down with it.  I’ve never neglected the body, not even in the amateurs.  [Trainer] Joe [Gallagher] doesn’t just work on the body (in the gym), but the body shots are coming good.
Smith beating Morby – By Al Stevenson

“I felt I hurt Morby a few times, but he kept away from me and showed good ring craft.  Morby has been around a bit, he gave me good eight rounds and I was landing flush but couldn’t put him away because he’s a decent kid.  He would avoid shots in the last minute of a round, stop them landing clean and showed experience.” 

Morby fell to 6-11-1 after the defeat.  Smith is 9-0-1 (4) and in the best form of his pro career thus far.  The 2008 ABA light-welterweight champion stopped short of calling for title shots in recent months, preferring to get rounds under his belt before asking for the big names.  Now, though, Smith feels that he has amassed enough experience to challenge for the domestic crown. 

“No, I think I’m ready for them know,” said Smith when asked if he needs a few more fights before going for the Lynes-Witter winner.  “Ability-wise, I think I would beat Lynes, but I needed rounds under my belt and to get them more often.  I have respect for what Colin has done, but would take him in my next fight now I’ve done the eight rounds.  That is all I’m lacking, the experience of rounds – I got some under me last time.  Colin won’t be a big super-middleweight leaning on me.  I think I’ll be stronger than Colin Lynes.” 

Witter and Lynes fought in October 2005, Witter successfully defended his British, European and Commonwealth light-welterweight titles with a decision win that night.  Both men lost form in subsequent years, but have recently picked things up; Witter was unlucky when narrowly losing to Yassine El Maachi in last year’s abysmal Prizefighter: The Welterweights final; Lynes grabbed the British belt by out-pointing Lee Purdy in November.  Smith will happily face either man if it means getting his hands on that handsome Lonsdale belt. 

He said: “I’ve done a bit of sparring with Witter, he’s awkward and what have you, but you won’t get anyone easy at this level.” 

By Terence
Boxing Monthly magazine and
UK Editor at www.boxingscene.com 
Courtesy of Ricky Reeno

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