Smith faces Radosevic for homecoming bout, Salido and Vargas collide in US
Lee Gormley | June 2, 2016
Liam Smith v Predrag Radosevic
- WBO light-middleweight title fight
- Saturday, June 4th
- Scheduled for: 22:00 BST
- Echo Arena, Liverpool
- Live on BoxNation
Smith meets Radosevic in homecoming bout
Liverpool’s Liam Smith will make the second defence of his WBO light-middleweight title this weekend on home soil, as he puts the strap on the line against Montenegro challenger Predrag Radosevic at the Echo Arena on Merseyside.
Eight months after securing the belt with a stoppage victory over John Thompson in Manchester, ‘Beefy’ returns home to Liverpool to defend the strap, having already done so against Jimmy Kelly in Lancashire last December.
It may not be the stellar name that Smith (20-0-1, 12 KOs) desired for his returning bout, but his latest challenger Radosevic’s (30-1, 11 KOs) record suggests it could be a tougher test than the initially expected straightforward fight for the reigning champion.
The homecoming champion is the massive odds-on 1/33 favourite with Coral to give his fans another win to celebrate, against a travelling Montenegro opponent that will be making his first appearance in the UK on Saturday night.
Clash with Canelo in Smith’s sights
Smith will enter the ring this weekend hoping to avoid any stumbles, as the talented 27-year-old looks to edge closer to a high-profile showdown with one of the sport’s biggest names, and only a strong showing could help secure such a bout.
“People might not know Radosevic but it is what it is, he’s number six in the rankings and is WBO European champion,” stated the Joe Gallagher trained Merseysider.
One of the potential foes tipped is middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, with the Mexican superstar having recently vacated his WBC strap and put off a long-awaited meeting Gennady Golovkin.
“It’s not a mandatory defence; the WBO ordered the Austin Trout fight but that didn’t happen. It’s a voluntary defence and people might give me stick because I’ve had two on the bounce but they’ll soon know, the minute I get offered a big fight, I’ll take it,” he continued.
Canelo fight “realistic”
“Realistically, looking forward, the closest thing that will come into play is the Canelo fight. I have got to win on Saturday first but that fight might be back on the table.”
“We’ll just have to see if the offer is right for me. Like I say, if they offer me the fight and it’s nothing stupid then believe me, I’m taking that fight.”
In order to cement an encounter with stellar names like Canelo, Smith first must avoid an upset against Radosevic, who is 10/1 to prevail in his UK debut, as the WBO light-middleweight champion aims to maintain his impressive undefeated run on home turf this weekend.
On the undercard, Paul Butler is 1/12 to overcome Petchbamgborn Kokietgym (6/1) for the WBO international super-flyweight strap, with their contest also being a world title eliminator, while Thomas Stalker enters at 1/50 to topple Antonio Joao Bento (14/1).
Francisco Vargas v Orlando Salido
- WBC super-featherweight title fight
- Sunday, June 5th
- Scheduled for: 04:00 BST
- StubHub Center, California
Vargas and Salido collide in controversial clash
Following his 2015 Fight of the Year win over Takashi Miura, Francisco Vargas returns to the ring to make the first defence of his WBC super-featherweight title in a controversial clash with Orlando Salido at the StubHub Center in California.
On paper this encounter looks set to be another Fight of the Year contender, though it has been somewhat tarnished with Vargas’ (23-0-1, 17 KOs) recent failed drugs test, which the Mexican claiming the clenbuterol in his system was from eating contaminated meat his homeland.
The 31-year-old defending super-featherweight champion’s reasons for testing positive for a banned substance have been successfully heard by the WBC, as the world title fight goes ahead in California, with Golden Boy declaring his innocence.
‘Bandido’ will enter the ring in the early hours of Sunday morning as the odds-on 1/4 front runner to emerge victorious, but faces a stern contest against a gritty competitor in former IBF and two-time WBO featherweight champion Salido (43-13-3, 29 KOs).
Salido a tough test for Vargas
With no fighter having been able to stop challenger Salido inside the distance since February 1998, Vargas faces a tough task ahead of him this weekend, despite colliding with some knockout artists in that time such as Juan Manuel Marquez, Robert Guerrero and Vasyl Lomachenko.
The Mexican will happily make a mess of a fight in order to get the upper hand, with his scrappy and veteran savvy approach set to give Vargas plenty to think about, and he is 3/1 to prevail on the back of a draw and prior defeat against Roman Martinez.
Both fighters have been involved in some hugely entertaining match-ups in the past and the pair have promised fans yet another war in California, with reigning champion Vargas stating: “I’m ready to give another incredible fight to the fans. I have always said I want to fight the best, and Salido is one of the best.
“The ones who will win will be the fans…”
“The only thing on my mind is to win this fight on Saturday. It’s up to the fans to decide if I’m number one. I’m a technical fighter but it will come down to my intelligence. This will be a very difficult fight on Saturday.”
Salido echoed his opponent’s thoughts on what is an unmissable scrap this weekend (25/1 for draw), with the WBC super-featherweight strap hanging in the balance, as he declared: “I’m a warrior and Vargas is a warrior. The ones who will win will be the fans.”
“When you get in to boxing, you are mentally prepared to get knocked down. Every time I’ve been knocked down, I just get back up again and fight. I like to prove everyone wrong and that’s what I plan to do when I go in and fight this young undefeated fighter.”