Liam Smith emerged victorious in the Battle of Liverpool, stopping Anthony Fowler in the eighth round of their DAZN main event.
Smith (30-3-1, 17 KO) had a tough start in this one, as Fowler (15-2, 12 KO) had pretty much the best round he’s ever had as a pro in the first here, starting sharp, putting a cut on Smith’s left eye, and just beating his opponent to the punch repeatedly.
But Smith, 33, is a pro’s pro, and he never got panicked, never lost focus on the task at hand. He plugged along, staying in the fight and setting little traps, even though Fowler was unquestionably landing more, scoring more, and really should have been ahead in the fight, even if DAZN’s Andy Lee would argue — and even if DAZN’s Andy Lee was ultimately correct about how things turned out.
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Smith dropped Fowler on a right hand in round five, but Fowler was able to survive on jellied legs, and had a decent sixth round, which Smith admits may have been him letting Fowler off the hook for the moment. In the eighth, though, Smith caught Fowler again, dropped him, and the fight was stopped, giving the veteran another solid win in what has been a fine career, one that will keep moving forward.
“I started very slow, but from start to finish we did a very good job,” Smith said. “I felt (a shot) in round four or five that shook me a little bit. I have no disrespect, but I said all along I’ve been in with bigger punchers and I feel like I’ve got a good chin at this level.”
Of the fifth round knockdown, Smith said, “I thought it was over then, I’ll be dead honest with you.” Smith also noted that he had to “make the fight personal” for himself in the build-up, as he knew that a loss here would pretty much do it for him as far as possibly getting another world title fight.
“I thought I made a good start. He was a class act, I’m not stupid,” Fowler said. “The better man won. It’s nothing personal. I tried my very hardest tonight. My head was still quite clear, believe it or not, but maybe the ref done me a favor.”
Smith said he hopes to fight former welterweight titlist Jessie Vargas next, and promoter Eddie Hearn said that is the plan for Smith’s next fight in early 2022.