Eastern promise for Smith
Liverpool super-featherweight Stephen Smith insists he would have no qualms about travelling to Japan for a world title shot.
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The 28-year-old moved a step closer to fulfilling his lifelong dream when he stopped tough Argentinian Mauricio Javier Munoz to claim the WBC world silver title in Leeds on Wednesday night.
The fight also doubled up as an eliminator for the WBC crown currently held by Japanese star Takashi Muira. But he has only fought once outside of his homeland so it's likely Smith would have to travel in order to get his chance.
"The world title option is now there and it could be that I'll have to go to Japan, but I'm happy to do that," said Smith (19-1 12KOs).
"It's my dream to be a world champion so I'm not going to be picky and moan when a chance comes along.
"If they say I've got to pack my bags and go to Japan then that's not a problem. I fought all over the world as an amateur and it would be really something to go there and beat him in his own backyard."
Smith had originally been due to face Fernando Saucedo in Leeds, but he was forced to pull out just days before the fight after suffering a mouth injury.
The dangerous Munoz - who has twice fought for a world title - was a late replacement but the Scouser took it in his stride as he forced the man from Argentina to retire at the end of the eighth round.
"It wasn't an easy night's work and I never expected that it would be," said Smith. "He'd fought for a world title twice so I knew he was a world-class operator who was going to give me a test.
"It seems that everyone who comes out of Argentina is known to be tough and that's two on the spin for me now so I'm delighted to come through it.
"It was a late change so I didn't get much of a chance to have a look at him before the fight. He was meant to fight last weekend anyway and has fought twice this year which I haven't done so he was fit and ready.
"But I think my amateur career helped me out. I had 152 amateur fights and went all around the world to face opponents I'd never seen before until the first bell so I think that stood me in good stead.
"I always knew I was in for a long night, I wasn't expecting an early finish. I was looking to box and then maybe step it up but after four rounds [trainer] Joe [Gallagher] was adament that he wanted me to keep on boxing.
"But I could hear him making noises when I was hitting him to the body so I knew I was getting to him."