Liam 'Beefy' Smith travels to Russia to face unbeaten Black Lion on Friday night and Frankie Monkhouse believes the Brit has a better chance than the betting suggests...
"Smith will use his experience and stay out of trouble in the early rounds when his opponent is most dangerous."
Beefy back in business
A spectacular month of boxing continues Friday as Liverpool's famous super welterweight Liam Smith battles Magomed Kurbanov over 12 rounds for the WBO International super welterweight title.
With the show taking place in Ekaterinburg, Smith enters the lion's den against a rising star of Russian boxing. But the Englishman aims to return to Merseyside with the title. Armchair fight fans can follow the action live and predict the winner at Betfair.
Smith caught Canelo early
Smith travels to Russia with his professional record showing 29 wins against two defeats and one draw. Of his victories, the Brit has scored 16 by knockout but has been stopped once himself. Beefy was taken out in nine rounds by Mexican legend and pound-for-pound boxing king Saul Alvarez in Texas in the summer of 2016.
Smith did put a dent in Canelo that night, opening a cut around the left eye in the early exchanges of the battle, but it didn't take Saul long to hit his stride. He dropped Smith in rounds seven and eight before finishing him with a body punch in nine. The remaining loss on Liam's card was inflicted by another Mexican, beaten on points by Jaime Munguia approaching three years ago in Las Vegas.
Since losing to Munguia, Smith has won each of his three comeback bouts. He stopped Sam Eggington in five then got rid of Mario Alberto Lozano in seven. He was last seen out-pointing Roberto Garcia in Phoenix over 10 rounds. Smith to win again trades at 2.0811/10 on the Betfair Exchange. A points victory is 2.56/4 in the method of victory with the KO/TKO 2.89/5.
Kurbanov carries power
Kurbanov is an exciting name in Russian boxing. The talented 25-year-old protects an unbeaten record with 21 wins from as many starts. He has a 62% KO average thanks to 13 stoppages since marking his professional debut with victory inside the first two rounds.
Black Lion has effortlessly made his way through the ranks and won each of his first three inside the distance. He is currently the number one ranked super welterweight in Russia and 16th in the world, a list topped by American Jarmell Charlo. Victory on Friday over an opponent ranked sixth would catapult Magomed up the charts.
Kurbanov starts on the back of a stunning run of form and has won each of his last two by knockout, both before the end of the second round. The home win for Kurbanov is priced at 1.9310/11 on the exchange with another KO/TKO 1.68/13 and the points win 21/1.
Smith to call on his experience
There can be no denying Kurbanov's form is impressive, and he has been blasting his opponents away early. It's easy to be impressed by that, but it's vital to remember Smith is a huge step up in class from what the Russian is used to. Kurbanov's last opponent had a 23-6-0 record with the one before an underwhelming 6-1-0.
Smith will use his experience and stay out of trouble in the early rounds when his opponent is most dangerous. The longer this fight goes, the more chance Smith will have of scoring an upset win in Russia. At the price, he's worth backing.