Liverpool’s Paul Smith was in reflective mood on Wednesday as promoter Eddie Hearn put on a homecoming press conference for the world title challenger prior to the Merseyside portion of the Cleverly v Bellew announcement.
Smith, 31, talked about the controversy surrounding his failed WBO super-middleweight title bid against Arthur Abraham last weekend and hopes to seal more world level opportunities if a rematch with the German fails to materialize.
“The support I’ve had has been unbelievable and out of this world. I said time and time again before the fight what I was capable of doing. I’ve known for a long time that I can hold my own at that level,” said Smith.
On losing what looked to be a very close fight 119-109 on Fernando Laguna’s mind-boggling sheet and 117-111, 117-110 on the two other cards, Smith added: “I believe I won the fight. I celebrated before the decision as if I had. It was ridiculous scoring. I have to look at the positives.
“I belong at world level. The bigger fights will come along and I’ll be ready to take them,” he concluded.
Talk has already shifted slightly from a second fight with Abraham as a shot at WBC champion Anthony Dirrell has already been mentioned by Hearn as a distinct possibility.
Ex-Smith foe George Groves is the current mandatory for Dirrell’s green belt, although the American has a voluntary defence before a stipulated meeting with the Londoner – leaving Smith in with a chance of filling that void.