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Munoz replaces injured Saucedo for Smith



‘Swifty’ gunning for World title shot with Leeds eliminator

Stephen Smith will face former World title challenger Mauricio Javier Munoz for the WBC World Silver Super Featherweight title and crunch eliminator clash at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Wednesday May 21 live on Sky Sports, after Fernando Saucedo was forced out of the fight with a mouth injury.

Argentine Munoz faced Evgeny Gradovich for the IBF Featherweight crown in July and travels to Yorkshire with two victories under his belt this year, taking him to 28 wins with 13 inside the distance.

Smith and Saucedo had been set to meet in March in Liverpool only for the Merseysider to be forced out with an elbow problem, but ‘Swifty’ says he is fully fit now and promoises to handle the change of opponent and get the job done as he closes in on a World title shot.

“The work I have put in there’s no excuses,” said Smith. “Of course it’s frustrating that we now face someone we know little about but I am in fantastic shape and I will adapt, beat him and get another title.

“I snapped the corner of my elbow bone so I had a piece of floating bone, it was fine when I was punching which is why I still wanted to fight, but when I got hit on the arm there was a bit of pain. I had it X-rayed and they showed me the corner of the bone and they shaved some of the bone with a bit of keyhole surgery and it’s fine now, I’m punching hard and when I get hit on it there’s no problem and it won’t be a problem in the future either. I was back in the gym after a couple of weeks and I’m more than ready to go.

“It’s not nice when you are injured and you can’t fight, but as soon as the operation was over I was happy because I knew that the pain would go away and I could move on at 100 per cent and really put my foot down in pursuit of that World title.”

The WBC crown is the property of Japan’s Takashi Muira and having only boxed outside of Tokyo once in his career when he defended the title in Mexico in August, Smith knows he could face a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun in order to land the belt.

“I think this will put me next in line for the World title, if not maybe one more fight away so I just have to do my job tonight and I will be there or thereabouts. If I win and look impressive doing so I will be knocking on the door.

“If I am told ‘pack your bags, you’re going to Japan to fight Miura’, it wouldn’t be a problem, I’d be made up to be getting the opportunity. In the amateurs I fought all over the world, it’d be no different and I would go there to take the title from him in his back garden.”

Smith’s clash with Munoz is part of an exciting night of action in Leeds as local star Josh Warrington puts his Commonwealth Featherweight title on the line against Martin Lindsay, with the vacant British strap also up for grabs.

Kal Yafai fights for his first pro title as he meets Yaqub Kareem for the vacant Commonwealth Super Flyweight crown while his younger brother Gamal Yafai makes his pro debut and Gavin McDonnell defends his British Super Bantamweight title against Josh Wale in a Yorkshire derby.

Hull’s Lightweight star Tommy Coyle, newly crowned English Light Welterweight champion Tyrone Nurse, Carshalton Light Welterweight Ricky Boylan, Brentwood’s Super Featherweight Martin J. Ward and Middlesbrough Cruiserweight Simon Vallily are all in action.

Tickets are on sale priced at £30, £40 and £60 available from the First Direct Arena on 0844 248 1585 and at www.firstdirectarena.com. VIP tickets priced at £120 are available exclusively from Matchroom Boxing on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com