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Preview: Liam Smith vs Hassan Mwakinyo

By Danny Gilfillan

Watch the action live on Sky Sports

Former world champion Liam Smith (31-3-1, 18 KOs) makes his inaugural ring walk under the Boxxer banner this weekend, taking on the hard-hitting Hassan Mwakinyo (20-2, 14KOs) at the M&S Bank Arena on Saturday night, broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Upon signing with Boxxer and Sky, a mega fight up middleweight with Chris Eubank Jr seemed like an inevitability for Smith. At his unveiling interview on Sky Sports News, a potential clash with Eubank accounted for the majority of the conversation. However, when it became clear that rumblings of an historic fight with Conor Benn for Eubank Jr were concrete, Smith was forced to go back to the drawing board.

Hassan Mwakinyo is a name that will be familiar to many on British shores – not least Sam Eggington. The Tanzanian entered the ring against Eggington in 2018 as a complete unknown and a huge betting underdog. Mwakinyo had clearly not read the script on that night, and silenced the Birmingham crowd as he stopped Eggington in just two rounds. Having consolidated that form with eight wins on the bounce on African soil – including a stoppage victory over former world champion Julius Indongo – Mwakinyo is a fighter used to getting his hand raised, and will arrive in Liverpool with every intention of upsetting the applecart once again.

However, with no disrespect to the Savage, Liam Smith represents a different level entirely to Sam Eggington. Now 34, ‘Beefy’ has looked as solid as ever in his last two outings. He followed up on his KO win over fellow Liverpudlian Anthony Fowler by bestowing the same fate upon two-weight world champion Jesse Vargas at Madison Square Garden in April. Back in front of a home crowd and never one to take opponents lightly, Mwakinyo can expect to be in with the best version of Liam Smith on Saturday night.

With the Eubank Jr fight off the horizon for the time being, one would imagine Smith will now set his sights on becoming a two-time world champion. All the belts at 154lbs are currently held by Jermell Charlo, who is scheduled to defend his undisputed crown against Tim Tszyu next January. Boxing politics would lead one to believe that the belts will fragment in the aftermath of that fight, and Smith is well ranked with multiple governing bodies should that be the case.

Though Smith is expected to get past Mwakinyo and move on to bigger and better things, the 27-year-old’s power and freshness means he can ill afford to be underestimated. Both men seldom take a backwards step and are constantly looking to bring fights to an early conclusion, so the blend of styles should make for an all-action affair in front of a baying Liverpool crowd.

The undercard is one not to be missed, as Smith’s compatriot WBO world super welterweight champion Natasha Jonas looking to unify her title, with WBC belt holder Patricia Berghault the woman in the opposite corner. Blue chip prospect Adam Azim will look to put in another blistering performance and steal the show once again in his sixth professional outing, and British light heavyweight champion Dan Azeez defends his Lonsdale belt against Shakan Pitters in arguably the highlight of the preliminary affairs.

The action gets underway from 7.30pm, live on Sky Sports Arena.

Watch the action live on Sky Sports

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