Liam Smith’s trainer Joe Gallagher has told his fighter he cannot afford to expect a decision should the WBO super welterweight title challenger see out the distance against John Thompson tonight at Manchester Arena.
Gallagher sends another of his successful stable into a world title shot on the back of Brits Matthew Macklin, Paul Smith and Anthony Crolla suffering crushing twelve round heartbreak in previous bids to pick up versions of a recognised crown.
Macklin and Smith lost out to Felix Sturm and Arthur Abraham when it looked like the both had done enough to just get the win on German soil, although Crolla was on his own doorstep when thwarted by a draw opposite Darleys Perez earlier this year.
Crolla’s disappointment at not getting what looked a nailed on decision at precisely the same venue in July is now being drummed into Smith for tonight’s clash with Thompson as the Liverpudlian aims to become the first Scouse world champion in over 20 years.
“I’ve told Liam not to rely on the judges,” Gallagher exclusively told World Boxing News in the fight build up.
“If anyone in my gym doesn’t know that by now, because we had Macklin in Germany, Paul (Smith) v Abraham and Crolla, who had home advantage and a two point deduction and still didn’t get it.
“Liam’s being sent out tonight with instructions that he needs a knockout to win and not to leave it to the judges and that’s what we’ll be looking to do. At some point in the fight he’s got to connect and take him out of there.
“We can’t be reckless because he can hit hard with either hand. I really rate Thompson’s power and he makes fighters think twice about coming in.”
Despite some bookmakers having Smith a 3/1 on favourite to claim the WBO belt at 154, Gallagher is amazed by the betting margin and says people shouldn’t believe that victory for ‘Beefy’ is a mere formality.
“The odds on the fight are absolutely ridiculous in my eyes how much a favourite that Liam is and it’s a real pick ‘em fight,” Gallagher explained.
“Thompson has a great amateur background. He beat Thurman in the amateurs and just had that one blip where he got knocked out when caught cold at the beginning of round two. Apart from that, Thompson has done well to get back through Boxcino.
“He’s got height, he’s strong and he’s got long arms. Also a good jab and is good with either hand. Thompson is a humble kid and he’s smart too and very good at art. It’s a very tough fight for Liam as it was a good result for him in the Boxcino beating Adams in the final.”
A win for Smith would represent the culmination of sterling work he and his boxing brothers Paul, Stephen and Callum have done over the years and Gallagher says it as a triumph for the city of Liverpool if his charge can secure the title tonight.
“Paul Hodkinson in 1993 was Liverpool’s last world champion, having lost in 1994 when challenging Steve Robinson. I’m a Manchester kid and I am feeling this as much for Liverpool as it’s a great fighting city,” he said.
“For Liam to win a world title, yes he gets the accolades that come with it, but for his family and his brothers it will be amazing,” added Gallagher.