Liverpool's Liam Smith became the first of four fighting brothers to win a world title today, stopping American John Thompson in the seventh round in Manchester to claim the vacant WBO junior middleweight title.
Smith (21-0-1, 11 KO) started slow, as the taller, rangier Thompson worked patiently and actively behind his long jab in the early going, setting and controlling the tempo as he had clearly planned. The long jab was tough on Smith, as "Beefy" had trouble figuring out a good plan of attack in the first two rounds, before finding a little success in the third and fourth.
Thompson (17-2, 6 KO) showed some defensive lapses in those rounds, too, getting caught with his hands down, standing straight up, something that seemed to foreshadow potential doom. After getting outboxed in the fifth round, Smith came out with some real steam in round six, and had the American visitor hurt at the end of the round.
Sensing he'd found the key to victory, Smith continued his pressure in round seven, and had Thompson fighting on the run. A little over a minute in, he landed a big shot that put Thompson on the canvas, face-first. Referee Marcus McDonnell started a count, but when Thompson collapsed back to the mat trying to get up, he stopped it and waved the fight off at 1:44 of round seven, handing Smith his first world title.