Top British super featherweight Stephen Smith believes a stateside world title shot is looming as current IBF champion Jose Pedraza approaches his first defence of the title this weekend.
Smith, 30, won the opportunity to challenge Pedraza as mandatory by stopping Devis Boschiero in six rounds earlier this month and is now patiently awaiting the outcome of Saturday night’s clash against Edner Cherry in Cincinnati.
Undefeated Pedraza recently claimed the vacant red belt by comprehensively out-pointing Andrey Klimov in June and Smith is not expecting a UK agreement should the overwhelming favourite cement his position as IBF title holder.
“If Pedraza wins and keeps the title then it’s unlikely that I’ll get a title shot at home,” Smith told World Boxing News.
“It looks like I’ll have to go to America, but I won’t know anything until October 3 as he’s got a fight against Edner Cherry. New York could be possible, but I don’t know at this stage.
“It’s his first defence of the title and you usually don’t pick someone you’re not confident on, unless you going right into a unification or a mandatory, so Pedraza must know something and be very confident to take that fight as his first defence. I haven’t seen enough of Cherry to think anything otherwise.”
Asked his thoughts on the 26 year-old Puerto Rican – who is a two-time world champion – ahead of their potential contest, Smith replied:
“I rate Pedraza and I think he’s a very good fighter. He used to both orthodox and had that Puerto Rican style, but his last few fights he just boxed southpaw. It will be interesting to see how he comes out for his next fight, whether its southpaw or he goes back to orthodox. I’m looking forward to seeing that, but I do think he’s talented even though he hasn’t got any standout names on his record,” he said.
It’s now a waiting game for Smith who will be an avid viewer of the imminent U.S Bank Arena encounter as ‘Swifty’ could possibly be ordered to agree terms with the winner within 90 days of the bout.
“I’m not sure right now how the IBF are going to go about it, but they are usually strict with their rulings,” pointed out Smith. “I’m just going to stay in the gym as I don’t want to get out of shape. I’ll just see what I get when the fight is over and the decision is made.”