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Smith out to dethrone Pedraza, Hyland challenges Russell Jr in US

Lee Gormley | April 15, 2016

Jose Pedraza v Stephen Smith

  • IBF super-featherweight title fight
  • Sunday, April 17th
  • Scheduled for: 04:00 BST
  • Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Smith seeks world title in US debut

Liverpool’s Stephen Smith travels to the United States to challenge undefeated Puerto Rican Jose Pedraza for his IBF super-featherweight title this weekend, as he aims to become the second of four brothers to become world champion.

Boxing - Liverpool Echo Arena

This will be the 30-year-old’s debut on American soil but the Joe Gallagher trained contender is confident of emulating his brother Liam in landing a world title, with the latter having clinched the WBO light-middleweight crown last year.

Smith (23-1, 13 KOs) will enter the ring at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut as the 7/4 outsider with Coral, against a previously unbeaten champion Pedraza (21-, 12 KOs), who has already made one successful, yet unconvincing, defence of his strap.

Challenger Smith confident of States success

The travelling Merseysider believes he has the power to stop the reigning IBF title holder, who narrowly overcame Edner Cherry in his maiden defence last October, having claimed the strap from Andrey Klimov with a more dominant showing in June.

Boxing - Liverpool Olympia

“He may come out with movement. He has seen me and seen my style, and may think that movement is the best way. I believe he won’t stand with me,” stated Smith, who is 11/4 for a points decision victory.

“I have said all along, I believe I punch hard for a super-featherweight and, if I land, he will know he has been hit. I believe I can get rid of anyone.

“It is going to be a bit of a cagey fight at times but I will up the pace and I think he finds the weight hard as well.

“We will see how the fight unfolds but I am very confident that I will be dominant on the night and I will be a new world champion.”

Pedraza poses genuine threat

Smith is seemingly set for a tough task in the early hours of Sunday morning though, with his opponent the odds-on 4/9 favourite and 6/5 to earn a points success.

Pedraza Klimov Boxing

The 26-year-old is an awkward fighter, having been well schooled as a Puerto Rican Olympian, and his switch hitting style will be sure to cause problems for Smith (5/1 for knockout).

“Smith is a strong fighter with a good defence, but I know I can beat him,” outlined Pedraza, who is 3/1 for a stoppage win.

“I’m going to take this fight round by round and not go into it looking for a knockout. But I’m going to continue to prove that I’m the best fighter at 130.”

Smith is currently 10-0 since being halted by IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby back in 2011 and is giving up two inches in height and four-and-a-half inches in reach when he contests Pedraza, though he and esteemed coach Gallagher will look to emerge from the US with a world title secured.

Gary Russell Jr v Patrick Hyland

  • WBC featherweight title fight
  • Sunday, April 17th
  • Scheduled for: 05:00 BST
  • Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut
  • Live on Sky Sports 1

Hyland hopes to dethrone Russell Jr

Following Smith’s attempts at a world title, Patrick Hyland will take to the ring aiming to dethrone dangerous American Gary Russell Jr and become Ireland’s first featherweight world champion since Barry McGuigan 30 years ago.

Carl Frampton v Scott Quigg - Manchester Arena

The 32-year-old Dubliner, who moved to New York back in 2011, enters proceedings at 11/1 to become WBC champion, a feat he is aiming to achieve for his late father Patrick Hyland Snr, who he sadly lost last year.

Hyland (31-1, 15 KOs) was trained by his father, alongside brothers Eddie and Paulie, and admitted winning the world title would be a fitting way to pay tribute.

“It’d be a dream come true…”

“It’s massively important for my father and the Hyland name alone,” stated the Tallaght-born contender.

Hyland Fortuna Boxing

“To finally win a world title would pay off and to look up and say ‘dad, I did it’ would be just… I’d be over the moon. It’d be a dream come true.

“He trained us all through our lives, since we were kids, he brought us up as pros and never missed a fight. He’s always in my corner.”

Russell Jr a tough foe for Hyland

‘The Punisher’ has an uphill task though against a truly talented champion, with Russell Jr (26-1, 15 KOs) having previously been compared to legendary fighter Sugar Ray Leonard by the former five-weight world champion himself.

Russell Jr, 27, tasted his only professional loss to arguably the greatest amateur boxer of all time, Vasyl Lomachenko, in 2014, but the southpaw is a massive odds-on 1/40 front runner for a successful title defence here.

Lomachenko Russell Boxing

“We’re definitely entertainers and it’s going to be an entertaining fight,” declared the Washington fighter.

“Any opponent that has six to eight weeks to prepare for nobody else but you is a dangerous opponent. I’m pretty sure he’s 100 per cent ready and he’s going to need it.”

Hyland’s strives to emulate ‘the Clones Cyclone’ in becoming another Irish featherweight world champion will be met by a strong title holder in Russell Jr, but the Foxwoods Resort crowd could be in for an entertaining match-up this weekend.

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Coral’s top tip: Back Liverpool’s Stephen Smith to overcome Jose Pedraza on points to become world champion at 11/4.

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