LIAM SMITH caused a stir online this weekend when it emerged he had taken part in a four-round fight in Barcelona just weeks before his crunch clash with Liam Williams.

Smith and Williams meet in a 50-50 domestic cracker in Manchester on April 8, but ‘Beefy’ outpointed Romanian journeyman Marian Cazacu at Club Entrena in Barcelona on Saturday night in a ‘secret’ fight that few had prior warning about.

Speculation has been rife over Smith’s motives for risking his highly-anticipated meeting with Williams but his trainer, Joe Gallagher, insists it was a necessary move.

“Liam Smith only had 11 rounds of boxing last year [he was stopped in nine by Canelo Alvarez after stopping Predrag Radosevic in two earlier in the year]. Liam Williams had 22, 23 rounds of boxing last year. Liam Williams is coming into this fight with a bit of momentum from championship fights, he’ll have his tail up,” he told Boxing News.

“Before the Canelo fight, Smith did no sparrinG [due to a cut] so he’s been out a long time. We didn’t want to go into this fight with just sparring so it was just a dress rehearsal, he was focused, he had his weight down, he did four rounds against a kid bigger than him who was just durable. It gave Liam the feel again, some momentum, it’s just shaking the ring rust off. It was just a safe fight to get going again, to get rounds.

“You can have sparring but you can’t buy real-time fight action, with small gloves on. It was a risk, a calculated risk. It was a good four rounds, he came out and did a session on the pads.”

The win also makes Smith eligibile to box for a vacant WBO title, per the organisation’s rules. A former holder of their world super-welterweight title, he is still in their top 10, as is Williams.

Reports have suggested that is the reason Smith boxed in Barcelona, however nothing has yet been confirmed.

“I heard about the title but that wasn’t in our agenda,” Gallagher continued.

“It was just about getting rid of ring rust. It possibly could [help with getting the title shot]. Liam Smith’s not the first to do it, other big names have done it, look at who [Marco Antonio] Barrera fought before he fought [Amir] Khan.”