Trainer Joe Gallagher is aiming high for the return of Liam Smith with two legendary former world champions high on his list of potential targets.
Smith lost his WBO super-welterweight to Canelo Alvarez last month without being overwhelmed by the Mexican and could be in line for a swift world title shot following a comeback fight in the next few months.
Although regaining his status as a world ruler is high on Smith’s to-do list, Gallagher believes sharing the ring with either Manny Pacquiao or Miguel Cotto could be the logical next step in 2017.
“Liam Smith has already been on Instagram to say, ‘that’s enough of my blowout’ as he’s got itchy knuckles and wants to get back into it. But I’d like Liam’s cuts to heal proper, have a good break and get back in after Christmas or maybe even February,” Gallagher exclusively told World Boxing News.
“There’s no point making excuses about what happened in the Canelo fight. We knew we were going in with our hand behind our back because of the lack of sparring and stuff like that but the performance Liam put on was really good.
“We had Canelo where we wanted him, but very much like Stephen Smith against Jose Pedraza, you can’t switch off for a second and we got caught be a world-class body shot against one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world.”
On keeping ‘Beefy’ in the spotlight against a massive name next year, Gallagher added: “I see Pacquiao probably wanting to fight around late spring or maybe even Miguel Cotto, and with Canelo probably giving up the belt who knows what can happen? – I’d want Frank (Warren) and Daniel (Kinahan) to definitely throw Liam’s name in the mix for the vacant title.
“Cotto’s last fight was a loss to Canelo and Liam’s last fight was a loss to Canelo, so it could be a case of Cotto and Liam fighting for Canelo’s old belt next year. I think that’s a good TV fight and I think Liam showed he was good enough to compete at that level. It’s also a winnable fight for Liam.
“I know Liam is itching to get back into a massive fight and a fight against Cotto for his old belt is a juicy fight. Not just here in the UK but over in America as well. I think the big TV networks would be interested in it.
“That’s the ideal fight for Liam Smith to come back to – against Miguel Cotto,” he added.