Liam Smith to prove he’s ready for world title opportunity, while Natasha Jonas raises the bar ahead of unification fight | boxing news

Liam Smith wants world title shots and high profile name fight nights, whichever comes first as he prepares to return to the ring against Hassan Mwakinyo in Liverpool on Saturday night.

The 34-year-old is riding the momentum of impressive wins over Anthony Fowler and, more recently, Jessie Vargas in New York after suffering a setback in defeat to Magomed Kurbanov in Russia in May 2012.

“I don’t want to sit here and keep having repeat fights and keep getting little paychecks here and there,” Smith said at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference. “I want to have a huge fight that people will talk about or I want to fight for a world title again.

“I’m two, three and four out of three from the governing bodies so I want to beat Hassan on Saturday and prove I’m ready for another shot at the world title.

“If you can’t have another world title fight because the belts are up, then I want a big fight that people are talking about.

“Obviously Chris Eubank is easy to do because of Sky’s situation, he’s the one I’ll take. Even if it’s not him, make another huge fight and I’ll take him.

The former WBO light middleweight champion lost his title after losing to Canelo Álvarez in September 2016, and couldn’t win it back against Jaime Munguía two years later.

But Smith insists he still has a lot to offer in the ring after signing with Boxxer this year in preparation for a return to the biggest stage.

“It comes with the family I’m from. People think ‘am I neglecting Hassan or coming to the end? Believe me, I come from too good a family for both,” he explained.

“If I take my eyes off the ball with Hassan, I will be told, if I reach the end of my career, I will be told – I am not told anything like that yet, so I still have a lot to give.”

Smith has long been linked with a fight against Chris Eubank Jr, who is currently gearing up to face Conor Benn in October.

While acknowledging the threat posed by Mwakinyo, Boxxer CEO Ben Shalom thinks big nights await Smith.

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“We’re under no illusions we wanted the next fight against Eubank, but everyone knows Liam Smith is a very, very tough fight and if there’s an easier fight on the table, people will go for it. take,” Shalom said.

“It was important for us to get him back on the platform, important for us to go back to basics. I think it’s going to be a massive night on Saturday night.

“Then it’s business end, then we get into world titles and big fights. Liam is ready for big fights and has been for a long time.”

Fellow Liverpudlian Natasha Jonas also features on Saturday’s card in front of a home crowd when she seeks to unify the WBO and WBC world super-welterweight titles against Patricia Berghult.

Jonas ended his long wait for a world title in February by beating Chris Namús by second-round TKO in Manchester, but finds himself wanting even more.

“Like any great athlete or sportsman, once you’ve reached a goal you kind of have to raise the bar a little bit higher and raise it higher and have another goal to work towards, that’s exactly what I did,” Jonas said.

“When Ben (Shalom) told me on Monday night after telling me on Thursday that we couldn’t have the other fight, ‘Do you want this fight?’, I jumped at the chance because the green and gold belt is something I think most boxers aspire to have.”

Sweden’s Berghult goes 15-0 in her career after beating Olivia Belkacem to win her WBC belt last time out after a unanimous decision win over Hannah Rankin in 2019.

He awaits the kind of challenge that others might have faced defending a title for the first time.

“I love it when things don’t go my way, I think it brings out the best in me,” Jonas added. “When I have that little fear factor like with Terri (Harper), with Katie (Taylor), it gives me the best performance.

“Nothing has changed in that. I’m wary of what she brings and that fear factor just rocks me.”

Sky Sports

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