I absolutely love Liam Smith as a fighter, basic and effective, always brings spirit, and have never been a huge Anthony Fowler fan. I lead with that so you know I’m not “falling for” the idea that Fowler is an elite fighter. I don’t believe that he is; but I do think he’s a good, talented fighter, a guy who has the goods to put it together on the right night and beat a strong fighter like Smith. I think he does that on Saturday. Smith is 33 and almost certainly going 12 with the 30-year-old Fowler here, and I don’t see Liam doing so much obvious damage along the way that he takes a ton of super clear rounds. Give me Fowler in a controversial split, the sort of win that will get him an even bigger fight, but leave Liam pissed off that he’s not right back where he wants to be. Boxing is unforgiving, and Liam Smith has had his chances. Fowler SD-12
Liam Smith is really a gritty guy who gives the best of what he’s got whether or not he’s on the winning or losing end of fights, and that’s something I genuinely appreciate. This is another close fight that could potentially swing both ways but I just have the sense that Smith is in a little bit more of a desperate position in that he really wants this win, perhaps even more than Fowler. I think Fowler will try to use an active jab to keep Smith at bay, but Smith is pretty good at fighting behind his guard and I think he’ll spot opportunities to jump on Fowler and work the head and body. If Smith goes downstairs early and often enough, I think he takes the steam out of Fowler that will enable him to take a decision over the distance. Smith UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
The name of the game here is distance. Fowler’s a genuine menace from mid-range, utilizing his height, reach, and footwork to put together sharp volleys of heavy punches. He used this strategy to great effect against Rico Mueller, who found occasional success with a pressure-heavy gameplan but ultimately succumbed to the bigger man’s power. While that should give Fowler some confidence against the straightforward Smith, who’s the same height (5’9”) as Mueller, Smith’s not a blown-up welterweight coming in on short notice. “Beefy” will be pushing implacably forward from bell to bell, and it falls to Fowler to do what he couldn’t against Fitzgerald and play keep-away for the full length of the fight.
Over 10 rounds? Maybe. Over 12? Nah.
Fowler will almost certainly have the edge while he’s still fresh, as he’s shown the skills necessary to punish Smith’s linear approach. As the rounds go by and Smith refuses to back down, however, he’ll run into diminishing returns sooner rather than later. Smith takes over down the stretch in a highly entertaining tussle. Smith UD-12