Briton Stephen Smith is hoping to be catapulted into mandatory contention for the WBC super featherweight title following champion Takashi Miura’s successful fourth defence of his belt in Japan on Friday.
Miura, 30, beat off the challenge of Australia’s Billy Dib in just three rounds at Ota-City Gym in Osaka and 29 year-old Smith, who is riding high in the WBC rankings, is eyeing an autumn clash with the big-punching title holder.
Smith’s trainer Joe Gallagher told WBN on Thursday that he is keen to begin talks with the WBC to make ‘Swifty’ the mandatory challenger and the pair believe the fight could happen at the Echo Arena in Liverpool if Miura is forced to face the Merseysider.
“I knew Miura would be too strong for Dib. He’s a very good fighter and proved he can travel well when he beat Sergio Thompson in Mexico, but he can also be hurt himself. I’d love to fight him at home, but I’ve already got it in my head that I am going to travel,” Smith exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I’ve heard stories that Miura is willing to come over to the UK and I’d like to think he would. Obviously if I could pick then anybody would like to fight at home rather than travel, but I really don’t mind either way. Travelling can bring out a better night for yourself if you can go and do it away. Joe Gallagher seems confident that we can get Miura over here, but I am not sure so I just want to wait and see. If it is at home that will give me a little boost.”
“If we can get the fight for September then I will wait and won’t fight before, but if the negotiations are ongoing and I don’t know whether it is happening then I want to fight in July. I’m back in the gym and I am training so I’d like to fight in July, but if I get told the fight with Miura is done then I understand I won’t be taking any risks and will just prepare myself for that.
“I don’t want to be sitting around waiting as there was talk of getting the fight done early this year but it didn’t happen and I took a fight at six days’ notice instead. I got a good twelve rounds in with two fights in a week because I didn’t want to be inactive and it will do me good in the long run.
“I think Miura is a makeable fight and I am confident that I will fight for the world title before the year is out.”
Facing Miura for the coveted WBC title is the first choice, although if that encounter fails to materialize in the immediate future, Smith says he will be stepping up to face a top-ranked name – one of which could be 23-fight undefeated Frenchman Romain Jacob.
“Obviously my return whoever it is against will be at a lot higher level whether it is straight in for this world title or if it something else,” said Smith.
“I’ve been mandatory for the European title which is due so it could be that against Romain Jacob. I am number two with the WBC and I think he is number four and three with the IBF and I am number five, so that could push me up to number one with either of those.
“It could even be made as a final eliminator with Jacob for one of the titles. The champion with the WBC or the IBF has got to fight me then,” he pointed out.
WBO fringe title holder Francisco Vargas is currently holding the top spot in the rankings with the WBC, so Smith will be keeping an eye on the Mexican’s next move as his dream shot at a world title edges closer to becoming a reality.