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Braehmer vs. Gutknecht on February 2nd in Berlin, Germany; Smith vs. O’Meara



Eduard Gutknecht (24-1, 9 KOs) believes that Juergen Braehmer´s (38-2, 30 KOs) time is over. Today the current European Light Heavyweight Champion and his mandatory challenger met for the first time since the announcement of their upcoming clash in Berlin on February 2. The all-German affair will take place at the Max-Schmeling-Halle and the winner will not only be able to call himself the King of Europe but also gets a crack at the WBO World Championship.

It was the Champion himself who had the first word at today´s official press conference and he did not wait long to make his intentions clear. “I wanted to fight him years ago while we were still at Universum,” said Gutknecht. “Back then he was the European as well as the WBO World Champion. He was at the top of the game. But in my opinion he has already peaked a long time ago and his time in the spotlight is over. Of course, he wants another chance to get back to where he was. But I’m the champion now and I won’t give him that chance.”

Surprisingly his opponent of the night, Juergen Braehmer, did not really respond to that provocative statement. Instead, he decided to tell the media about his new training group headed by his old and new coach Karsten Roewer. “My preparations with Karsten Roewer, who I already worked with during my days as an amateur, are going really well,” said Braehmer. “I have a lot of fun with the other guys of the group and that is exactly what I need. Having fun while working hard motivates me.”

Gutknecht used that comment for another dig at the former champion. “I am not a joker. I take this sport seriously.” And his coach Ulli Wegner confirmed that there was not as much laughter in his camp. “We don’t have that much fun in my group – the guys can have fun during their spare time.”

Towards the end of the press conference, the challenger did make one thing clear. “When I am fully trained and in the right shape it is pretty much impossible to stop me. Once again, I have the chance to become to European Champion and after that the WBO World Champion. I will grab that opportunity with both hands.”

Tickets for the big fight night on February 2 at the Max-Schemling-Halle in Berlin can be purchased at www.eventim.de and www.boxen.com.

Smith hoping to take advantage of O’Meara’s defensive problems

Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith endeavours to become the third member of the famous Liverpool fighting clan to capture a Commonwealth professional title on Saturday week when he fronts up to West Drayton’s Steve O’Meara for the vacant light-middleweight strap at London’s ExCel Arena on Saturday week. It is unquestionably one of the domestic match-ups of this year.

Frank Warren’s end of year extravaganza features a staggering SIX title fights: WBO World Lightweight Champion Ricky Burns defends his title against Jose Ocampo, George Groves defends his Commonwealth Super-Middleweight title against Glen Johnson in the chief support; plus Commonwealth Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders defends his title against Nick Blackwell with the vacant British title also on the line; unbeaten Bradley Skeete challenges Southern Area Welterweight Champion Chas Symonds for his title and WBO International Cruiserweight Champion Tony Conquest defends against Neil Dawson.

Watch the whole ‘Three Kings’ bill live and exclusive in the UK on BoxNation, Channel of Champions, Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546. Join at www.boxnation.com

With brothers Paul and Stephen triumphing at super-middleweight and super-featherweight respectively, unbeaten ‘Beefy’ shall be aiming to score a hat-trick for the football daft Scouse siblings.

For the past 18 months, Liam has been honing his craft under top coach Joe Gallagher at the Khan gym in Bolton. Here, in his own words, trainer Joe talks candidly about their time together and why he believes his man is set to triumph over O’Meara.

“I first became aware of the Smith brothers from my time as an amateur coach but didn’t see many of Liam’s amateur fights; I was more familiar with Paul and Stephen.

Liam had his first seven pro fights (six wins, one draw) with the Vaughans back in Liverpool but followed his brother Paul to my gym in mid 2011. We’ve had six fights together, three stoppage wins, three points wins.

Liam’s actually very good at a lot of sports; football, snooker, tennis….and would have succeeded at whatever he applied himself to. Thankfully, he chose boxing.

He was already very good when he came to me. He doesn’t have blinding speed or Mike Tyson ‘take out’ power but he’s a good all rounder. He’s impressed me hugely with his timing, his shot selection and his placement. He also has good balance and finds the gaps very well, is very accurate. His output is high and he’s a solid body puncher. He’s stopped a few downstairs.

Liam’s also got a very good temperament. He’s very cool and assured; has ice running through his veins. He’s a good listener who can follow through a game plan. He’s a student who spends time watching and analysing his opponents.

Personality wise, he keeps himself to himself but is a naturally funny kid, a bit of a Victor Meldrew; always whinging but in a light-hearted way. He’s good to be around; a good gym member who’s popular cos he always supports the other lads.

When he arrived, he had a habit of throwing nice shots, then just standing there and admiring his work which we’ve tried to eradicate. He’s also got better defensively; thinks more about what’s coming back.

I knew he had the ability to shine at six and eight round level but, to test him mentally and prepare him for championship fights, I took him over to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym in California last August. That took Liam out of his comfort zone.

He sparred Nobuhiro Ishida, the Jap who knocked out James Kirkland, plus this Nigerian called Wale ‘Lucky Boy’ Omotoso who’s 23-0 (19 stoppages)and they’re all raving about. Liam more than held his own. Being a pasty coloured white kid who fought like a Mexican, he raised a few eyebrows and created interest. I think he’d be far more appreciated if he was based in the US.

Those spars proved to us both that he has what’s needed to make title level. He thrived out there so I know he won’t get intimidated at international level once he cleans out domestically. Hopefully, it’s given him the confidence to really apply himself.

On his return, he won every round of his British eliminator with Gary McMillan without getting out of third gear. He only started warming up in the last two rounds. We decided to dip our toe into the light-middles because, domestically, welterweight is jam packed. As we thought, light-middle has provided us with a quicker route to the titles. Liam’s doing a lot of strength work with his dad Paul Snr, and he’ll grow into the weight then stay at 154 for a long time.

He’s 24 now so we want this to be his break out year. There’s a sense of urgency to crack on after his performances at The Wild Card.

This is a big step up in class for both but Liam’s ready to step up. He’s definitely had harder spars than he’s had fights. In addition to the American trip, he spent the whole summer in the gym, and had great sparring with (Commonwealth welter boss) Denton Vassell. He’s got the bit between his teeth, is knuckling down and, right now, you can tell he’s really in love with the game.

In O’Meara, he faces a southern version of himself; a deserving fighter who’s chomping at the bit for an opportunity. Steve will enjoy home support and we know he has a good fan base down south. We hear he’s been sparring well with James DeGale and having Jimmy Mac’s experience in his corner will be a big plus for him.

I like O’Meara as a fighter. He went over to the ‘Dog Pound’ to spar Floyd Mayweather which takes bottle and merits respect. He steps in well and clearly can bang with the right hand. We have to make sure he doesn’t come to the ring with that horse shoe in his glove! But I’ve been at pains to warn Liam that he’s far more than just a one trick pony.

He’s got good balance, is sharp with both hands, has a good left hook to the body and, with Jimmy involved, you can guarantee he’ll be exceptionally well conditioned. He seems relaxed and patient but might not be so comfortable on the back foot.

I’m expecting a cagey game of chess for the first few rounds with both looking to impose their authority at every opportunity. But once it warms up, expect it to sway back and forth. It could be a hard fight to score but, if Liam can replicate his gym form, I expect him to win by stoppage late on. He’s got this real ‘never say die’ attitude. I’ve a feeling that, technically, Steve has a few more holes than Liam does and, when it gets hard, he’ll fall apart quicker than Liam does.

I’ve been banging on about Liam Smith for a long time now and see this as his coming out party. Everyone will be pleasantly surprised.”