Smith finds the right path

Terry Dooley
31/07/2015 11:38am

Like so many boxers before him, Liverpool’s Liam Smith (20-0-1, 10 KOs) was on the wrong path when sport came calling and set him straight after a few years spent causing mischief on the streets of his hometown. Unlike most boxers, however, Smith’s first love was football; he had high hopes of making it as a professional only to realise that his future lay with boxing instead.

His father, Paul Smith Senior, experienced something similar; he boxed as an amateur yet did not make the transition to the professional ranks. Life and family came first, but he instilled a love of boxing into his sons Paul, Stephen, Liam and Callum, who are all successful professional fighters.

“My dad boxed,” revealed Smith when speaking to Boxing Monthly. “He had too much going on to be in the gym every day. He had three amateur fights and has been around boxing for so many years. Maybe that’s where we all got it (an appetite for boxing) from. He’s very proud of what we’ve done in boxing.”

“Beefy” holds the British light-middleweight title and hopes to fight for a world title down the line, but only under his terms and when the time is right. The 27-year-old recently turned down a crack at WBO holder Demetrius Andrade after conferring with Joe Gallagher, his trainer.

Gallagher’s face lights up when he talks about the man he calls “El Beefio” due to his neat, Mexican style of fighting. The respect is mutual, the former Commonwealth titlist believes that his trainer will take him to the top of the sport.

“I knew after a week of training with him that we’d gel well,” he said. “I look at the top fighters he’s trained and been around so I put all my faith into him. You get some coaches who say things and you think: ‘You have to say that’. Joe’s not like that. I’ve heard him answer questions honestly, even if the fighter doesn’t like what he’s saying.”

Paul Smith, the eldest of the Smiths, recently fought Andre Ward. “Smigga” failed to make the 172lbs catchweight limit and took plenty of clean shots, forcing Gallagher to throw in the towel in round nine. There has been talk of retirement; Liam, though, believes his brother should take his time before making one of the biggest decisions of his life.

He said: “People were harsh over the Ward fight and the weight. Paul made a mistake - it was on a big stage but was still just a mistake. Paul’s had a good career. It’s up to him. He’s got his punditry work with Sky as well.

“Paul’s fought on the biggest stage, people always want a farewell fight or to go out on a win - what if you end up losing to someone you’d have beaten a few years ago? Can he get up for it again if he has some domestic fights after being at that top level?

“You’ve just been on the big stage three times, had two world title fights [both decision defeats to Arthur Abraham for the WBO Super middleweight title] and a crack at the number two fighter pound-for-pound. I wouldn’t like to see him lose to someone who is not as good as him.

“Look at his career, he’s only lost to [James] DeGale [L TKO 9], [George] Groves [ L TKO 2], which sickened him because it was a single shot and he’d prepared well for Groves, then Abraham and Ward. Yeah, he lost to [Stephen] Bendall [L10 in 2008], but he’d usually beat him 10 times out of 10.

“People are telling him to retire. I’m telling him to sit down with the family and make his decision after their new baby’s come in August.”

If you want to read Liam Smith’s reasoning behind turning down a world title shot you will have to pick up a copy of this month’s magazine. The August 2015 Boxing Monthly is available in stores now and via app on iTunes now.