IT has been almost two years since Liverpool’s Paul Smith (38-9, 22 KOs) faced boxing’s version of a mission impossible, an away outing against current pound-for-pound kingpin Andre Ward (then 27-0, 14 early) in Oakland, California. Smith suffered a broken nose en route to a punishing ninth-round TKO loss on June 20 2015 in what was a chance of a lifetime.
When word of the contest came through, he was on a beach in Marbella with his wife and had to bring forward an operation on a troublesome elbow niggle. On the day of the official weigh-in, Smith came in at 176.4lbs, four pounds over the catchweight limit of 172. The visitor hit 184lbs on the morning of the non-title contest, which cost him $15000 due to an agreement that he would be fined $5000 for extra every pound added over the hastily renegotiated 181lbs limit.
Smith was criticised for travelling to the U.S. a week before the fight. Indeed, it is one of the few regrets he has about taking what was a once in a lifetime opportunity—that and the fact that he did not join trainer and friend Joe Gallagher earlier in his career.