Liam Smith will now face top American John Thompson for the Vacant WBO World Super-Welterweight Championship on the huge Saturday 10th October show at the Manchester Arena.
Liverpool star Smith will feature in a TRIPLE world-title card alongside WBO World Middleweight Champion Andy Lee facing off against Billy Joe Saunders in a massive showdown and WBO World Lightweight Champion Terry Flanagan defending his title against mandatory challenger Diego Magdaleno.
Smith was due to face Frenchman Michel Soro for the title and terms were agreed with Top Rank for the vacant title fight to take place in Manchester. However, due to an internal problem between Soro and his promoter, the fight could not be finalised and the number five ranked Thompson, with Art Pelullo’s Banner Promotions, was the next available contender.
Thompson, known as the ‘Apollo Kidd’, fights out of Newark, New Jersey, and holds a ring record of 17-1 with six knockouts.
In May, Thompson caused a huge upset when he destroyed Brandon Adams in the prestigious Boxcino Junior-Middleweight tournament in California. Thompson, a late replacement, stopped Adams, the tournament favourite, inside two rounds with a brutal left-hook.
Standing at 6’ 1” with speed and an unorthodox style, Thompson uses this assets to systematically pick apart opponents. The 26-year-old has been described as a throwback 1950’s type fighter with a dangerous ‘old school’ style.
Thompson said, ”I am ecstatic at the opportunity. I will look to take advantage of it and ready to win and become world champion. It won’t feel like fighting the road. I have family in Scotland, who will be at the fight. I’ve been there before and that was a pleasure trip, I am coming this time for business.”
The undefeated Smith, ranked at #3 by the WBO, is currently on a five-fight knockout run and in his last fight stopped David Ezquiel Romero in seven rounds to claim the WBO Intercontinental title.
The 27-year-old says the change of opponent won’t bother him and aims to do a demolition job on his American rival and become the first of the four fighting Smith brothers to win a World title.
Smith said, “I don’t care who’s in front of me, nobody is going to stop me from winning the world title. I’m not bothered about Soro, all I care about is Thompson and beating him and getting that belt around my waist. I’ve seen Thompson before as I keep my eye on everyone in the division as I might one day fight them. He’s tall and strong and can obviously bang a bit with his big upset in the Boxcino tournament. I’m more excited to be fighting an American as they bring that extra spice to the ring and it’s going to be cracker for the fans and viewers on BoxNation.”
Promoter Frank Warren added; “Having agreed and confirmed a deal with Soro’s promoter and then having announced the fight, I was very disappointed to hear there was an internal disagreement between him (Soro) and his promoter. We didn’t wish to be involved in this dispute and wait any longer for this to be resolved which would have held up the WBO title and Liam fighting for it. Therefore we sought approval from the WBO for the next available contender which was John Thompson who jumped at the chance to fight for the World title. We’re still over six weeks’ away so Liam can adjust his training and strategy for Thompson who’s a tall, tough fighter and will be looking to cause a big upset by defeating Liam.”
With a staggering three world titles headlining World War III, the card also features three more big title fights with British and Commonwealth Super-Featherweight Champion Liam Walsh defending his titles against mandated challenger Troy James, plus red hot, undefeated Jack Catterall defending his WBO Intercontinental Super-Lightweight title and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight Champion Luke Blackledge facing Lee Markham.
An action packed undercard features Liverpool lightweight Tom Stalker against Craig Evans, Manchester Super-Featherweight Adrian Gonzalez against local rival Jon Kays as well as Manchester Super-Welterweight Jimmy Kelly, Sheffield heavyweight Richard Towers and the professional debut of Bolton middleweight Jack Flattley.