Last week Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing announced that on September 19th, Stephen Smith will face Devis Boschiero in a final eliminator for the IBF super-featherweight crown.
Smith has waited a considerable time for his shot at the big time and this final eliminator is his chance to become the mandatory challenger for the coveted world title.
The 2006 Commonwealth Gold medalist has already had a stellar career so far, winning twenty two of his twenty three contests to date.
His only loss as a pro came at the hands of current IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby in a British title defence. Since then, wins over the likes of Gary Buckland and Mauricio Javier Munoz have pushed ‘Swifty’ back on to the verge of world honours once more.
First of all congratulations on your world title eliminator, you’ve been waiting a long time for this haven’t you?
Yes it’s been a long time coming but hopefully it’ll be worth the wait come September 19th.
Why did you switch your focus to the IBF rankings when you were so invested in the WBC route? Is it just because of the opportunity that came up for you?
I’ve made no secret of it, I’ve always wanted the WBC title it’s been a favourite of mine. Beggars can’t be choosers and I would bite your hand off at the opportunity to fight for any of the belts. I could have had a final eliminator for the WBC but the IBF also ordered one so we had a choice of options. We looked at both and the IBF eliminator looked the most viable because we could get it over here where as for the WBC title we would have to travel to fight the eliminator.
How much do you know about your opponent Devis Boschiero?
Now you’ve got this fight in Liverpool, does that give you a little bit of an extra edge?
It’s definitely a positive for me. I’m sure he would prefer to have the fight in Italy but he will have to leave the comfort of his home, so it’s definitely a plus for me.
What was the thought process behind making the fight at the Olympia in Liverpool instead of on the undercard of your brothers fight in November?
I’m happy that I’ve got my own bill because I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a while now and I knew my next fight was going to be a big fight. November would have been too long to wait for the fight because I’ve been waiting, so it’s going to be a bit of a last minute bill. Obviously with the big one being in November, I’m happy they’ve put this smaller bill together and I hope there will be a good atmosphere there on the night.
How do you feel now as an established super featherweight after spending much of your career at featherweight. Have the extra four pounds helped you feel a lot stronger?
Everybody that struggles at the weight will tell you that the last few pounds are the hardest to shed. It’s not hard getting in the gym and losing weight, but when you’re getting near the weight and you’ve not got much to lose it does hurt your body. I did featherweight in my amateur career and I went to the Commonwealth games at featherweight, but over time your body gets older and I found it harder to make the weight. The move up was a blessing in disguise for me.
How’s training been going so far for the fight?
It’s been going good. I’m feeling really good and I feel really fit. We’re just working on the game plan now and working on certain shots that I believe will work against Boschiero.
What’s it like training under Joe Gallagher?
It’s good, he’s a very dedicated trainer and I believe it makes it easier for yourself to put the dedication in because you don’t want your trainer being more dedicated than yourself – it wouldn’t be right. You’ve got to put it in because his dedication is unbelievable. It makes it easier to get out of bed and go and put the graft in because you know he is going to be there.
How do you see the fight going?
I think it will be a good pace fight. I think he is aggressive and he’ll come looking for his shots, but I believe I’ll be better in every department. I believe I’ve got better boxing ability and I can walk him on to my shots. It will be an exciting fight and a tough night for me, but it is one that I will come through.
With your fight, Callum’s huge British title fight, Liam’s world title shot and Paul just coming off the back of the Andre Ward fight, the Smith brothers are taking over British boxing aren’t they?!
Yes definitely. It’s good times for us. When we first started boxing we would never believe that we would be the most successful boxing family. We still train together and we will keep pushing each other so that we get better and better. If all goes well and me and Callum win our next few fights, it will mean that all four brothers have been British champions and all four brothers will have boxed for a world title. We couldn’t have asked for anymore than that when we started boxing. I’ll say this now, I don’t think we will be happy if we don’t get a couple of world title between ourselves.
By Luke Madeira, follow Luke on Twitter @lukemadeira15