March 8, 2016
March 8, 2016
stephen smith

Action Images/Craig Brough

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STEPHEN SMITH finally has a date for his world title fight with IBF super-featherweight champion Jose Pedraza.

The Liverpudlian will travel to Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut on April 16, and he’s ready to seize his opportunity with both hands.

Smith became Pedraza’s mandatory when he destroyed Devis Boschiero in September, though his fight with Jose was only confirmed last week.

“I always knew I’d be next for him [Pedraza] it was just a case of not knowing when it would be. People would always ask me what was happening and I genuinely didn’t know so it’s nice to know when the date is and Joe [Gallagher, his trainer] can get my ready for that date,” he told Boxing News.

“I won the final eliminator and I’m his mandatory so I thought it would be a bit more straightforward. It’ll be about eight months since I last fought by the time I’m in there but I’m just glad it’s sorted.”

An agreement between Eddie Hearn, Smith’s promoter, and Lou DiBella, who handles Pedraza (alongside Gary Shaw and Javier Bustillo), was understood to have been made sometime ago, however negotiations then went to purse bids last week.

When it was revealed DiBella had won them with a bid of $150,000, some felt Smith had been shortchanged however Hearn’s original agreement with DiBella still stands and the Merseysider will earn a lot more than the $37,500 DiBella’s bid would grant him.

Smith however remains focused on one thing – his mandated shot at the title.

It will be the 30-year-old’s first fight in America, and ‘Swifty’ is well aware of the exposure he will gain when he takes on the Puerto Rican.

“Something was sorted earlier on but then it had to go to purse bids, so it came to that and there was a chance Eddie would win but they made an agreement,” he said.

“I haven’t got a problem with going to America. I’m looking forward to it. If you want to make your name you need to go over there really. You can be a world champion over here and no one knows your name in America. It’ll be a nice feeling to go and win a world title on away soil and bring it home.

“Pedraza’s a good fighter. He’s talented. On his day he’s a tough man to beat but it’s one I’m very confident I’ll win, I can put my style on the fight.”

Pedraza won the vacant title with a 12 round decision win over Andrey Klimov last June before edging out Edner Cherry on a split decision in October.

Smith, whose only blemish on his record came at the hands of Lee Selby in 2011, looked sensational in stopping Boschiero.

With his brother, Liam, currently holding the WBO super-welterweight title and Callum scheduled for a final WBC super-middleweight eliminator on April 2, Stephen hopes to bring more titles to the hugely successful fighting family.

Should he and Callum both achieve their dream and Liam retains his title, they will join the Kamedas (Tomoki, Koki and Daiki) as the only three brothers to simultaneously hold boxing world titles.

With Paul Smith set to return on April 2 after twice pushing WBO world super-middleweight champion Arthur Abraham close last year, they could even go for the full set.

“As a family, to have two brothers as world champions will be a nice feeling. Hopefully by the time I’ve won the world title Callum will be fighting for one as well so we just need to keep the momentum going and keep pushing on,” Stephen said.

“Paul is back in April as well and if he can get a couple of wins he could be boxing for a world title again, too.”