Liverpool light-middle Liam Smith attempts to become the UK’s eighth reigning world champion next Saturday. BoxNation deliver the trivia behind the stone-faced Scouser.
Liam Smith was born in Kirkdale, Liverpool on 27th July 1988. He is third eldest of the four fighting brothers who were all national amateur champions and England internationals. Paul, Stephen and Liam have all held British and Commonwealth pro titles. Callum, the youngest, fights Scouse rival Rocky Fielding for the vacant British super-middle title later this year.
The brothers have two younger sisters. Holly is autistic and all four have ‘Autism’ printed on the band of their ring trunks to promote awareness of the condition. Liam copped his ‘Beefy’ nickname from his father Paul Snr – a former Mr Liverpool body building champion – because apparently he was a ‘fat baby’!
While Paul Jnr, Stephen and Callum were all boxing competitively whilst at primary school, Liam didn’t take up the sport until he was 14. As a child, his first love was football and he played at representative level. He continues to play league football on Saturdays (defence or midfield) and Sunday (striker) plus five-a-side once a week.
Like his brothers, he is a huge Liverpool FC fan and was introduced onto the pitch ahead of the Reds recent Premier League clash with Norwich City. He lists Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher among his friends.
Liam finally joined his brothers at the Rotunda ABC gym – a stone’s throw from the family home – in 2002. He was coached for his first seven contests by the late, great Jimmy Albertini and won them all. After initially losing an English schoolboys final, he won four national titles, most notably the 2008 English senior ABA Light-Welterweight championship.
He represented England on 17 occasions, losing less than a handful but, unlike his brothers who all medalled at the Commonwealth Games, he didn’t compete at any major international tournaments. ‘My aggression and body punching were always more suited to the pros,’ he explains.
In the autumn of 2008, Liam signed pro forms with London promoter Frank Warren who had sent him a ‘Good Luck’ text before his ABA final. By his 16th fight, Warren had navigated the Merseysider to British and Commonwealth titles – just as he’d done with older brothers Paul (super-middle) and Stephen (featherweight).
For his first half dozen pro starts, ‘Beefy’ was coached by father-son tandem George and Danny Vaughan. However, after being held to a draw by Midland Area champion Terry Carruthers in December 2012, Smith switched to Manchester trainer Joe Gallagher and has since won 15 straight, stopping his last five. Gallagher, who now schools all four brothers claims: ‘All excel in different areas but Liam is the most complete all-rounder.’
Smith is revered for living the life of a real prizefighter and, even between fights, seldom ventures too far above his fighting weight of 154lbs. Latterly, he has incorporated exotic meats into his training diet.
‘I’m the fussy eater in the family,’ he disclosed.
‘I started experimenting just before I won the British title two years ago. I’ve tried kangaroo meat, but that was a bit chewy so now I’m on the ostrich; very clean and lean plus it tastes lovely!’
Away from the ring and gym, Liam is a qualified painter and decorator. Though the brothers are very supportive of each other’s ring careers, they are highly competitive among themselves in all other sporting pastimes. ‘I’m probably the best footballer of the four of us and easily the best at snooker and pool,’ crows Liam.
An outstanding all-round sportsman, he has recently fallen in love with the golf course and states: ‘My handicap would be around 13 if I had a club membership.’ Despite his late start, he concedes he is now a ‘boxing anorak’ who passes leisure hours watching tapes and surfing the internet. He lists Sugar Ray Leonard as his all-time hero.
Though he was the least decorated amateur of the four fighting siblings, Liam is a 2-5 favourite to win the race to land a world title. On Saturday, he confronts New Jersey’s 6ft 1in John Thompson at Manchester Arena for the vacant WBO crown.
Away from the ring the 26-year-old visitor – known as ‘Apollo Kid’ – is a landscape and portrait artist. However, last year he was knocked out in two by Brooklyn’s Frank Galarza and also suffered a heavy knockdown in his most recent win. Expect Smith to put him on canvas on October 10th!