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Smith faces Boschiero in ‘final chance’ IBF featherweight eliminator

Merseysider Stephen Smith has declared that his IBF featherweight title eliminator encounter with Italian Devis Boschiero is the final chance at finally claiming a world crown, with the winner earning a mandatory shot at glory.

Fighting on his home soil at the Liverpool Olympia, 30-year-old Smith will aim to end his tough path towards a world title, having so far claimed British and commonwealth belts in his career to date.

‘Swifty’ has been on the world title trail after impressive victories over Sergio Medina and Mauricio Munoz over the past year, but he is 7/2 with Coral to have his dreams shattered by Boschiero in this hometown clash.

Boxing - Stephen Smith v Sergio Manuel Medina - Vacant WBC International Silver Super Featherweight Title - Phones 4u Arena

Currently in possession of the IBF title is Puerto Rican competitor Jose Pedraza, who will defend the strap against American Edner Cherry next month, and Smith believes his latest bout will make or break dreams of challenging for that belt.

“I believe it is my only chance at a world title shot,” stated Smith. “That is how I am looking at it. I have been waiting for a while and this is the only chance I will get and I have to capitalise; it is now or never for me.

“It is the world title and a chance I have been craving. Whether it be Jose Pedraza or Edner Cherry I don’t really mind, I am not looking ahead of this fight because I have to win this tonight.

“If I win this fight then I am fighting for the World title; no politics, no negotiations, I am next in line and will fight for the World title. Wherever that be I don’t mind, I just want my chance. Given that I have home advantage in the final eliminator I can’t complain.”

Boxing - WBO Light Heavyweight Title - Nathan Cleverly v Sergey Kovalev - Undercard - Motorpoint Arena

The Liverpudlian is the odds-on 1/5 favourite to dispatch Boscheiro in his own backyard, but Smith, whose three brothers also hold British boxing titles, isn’t looking past his latest challenger.

“I cannot look past him. I can’t see it as I have a shot at the title – I have to go and beat him for it and that is what I fully intend to do,” continued Smith.

“I think he is a good fighter, an aggressive fighter and he comes looking or the big shots but on the night it will hopefully play into my hands. Stylistically it makes for a good fight but it is one where I believe I will be better than him in every department.”

Boxing - Liverpool Olympia

Smith has lost just once in his career, to world champion Lee Selby in 2011, but a second defeat could spell disaster for ‘Swifty’, something echoed by his coach Joe Gallagher.

“He has to win. I wouldn’t say his career’s on the line but he’s in a make-or-break fight so first and foremost it’s about the win,” said Gallagher. “I think it’ll be hard. Boschiero is very good and used to fighting on the road. A lot of people thought he won when he fought for a world title in Japan.”

Smith will take to the ring in front of his rapturous home fans in Liverpool on Saturday night, where Scott Cardle will contest Gary Buckland, who is 12/5 to triumph, in the first defence of his British lightweight title, on what could be a momentous night on Merseyside.

Betting tip: Smith to prevail @ odds-on 1/5