Liam Smith has the chance to reclaim his old World Title on May 12th, and admits he'll have to be at his best to beat Sadam Ali.
Last November, 'Beefy' outpointed Liam Williams to put an end to the first fight controversy and he subsequently became mandatory challenger for the WBO World Super-Welterweight Title.
Just a few weeks later in New York, Ali caused an upset in Miguel Cotto's final ever fight by defeating the Puerto Rican on the scorecards.
"I think he'll raise a notch again, going in on a high after the Cotto win," Smith told iFL. "He's a good fighter. This sounds mad, but it's probably a tougher fight than Cotto, at the stage of the career."
🚨 BREAKING 🚨— Frank Warren (@frankwarren_tv) March 19, 2018
Ali v Smith WBO World Super Welterweight Championship clash on May 12th in New York CONFIRMED ✅ @realworldkidali @LiamBeefySmith @GoldenBoyBoxing @btsport @boxnationtv pic.twitter.com/Uv58piU3bO
Smith, who held the WBO belt between October 2015 and September 2016, argued that Cotto was not the same fighter as we've seen in the past, but respects Ali for his achievement.
"I think Cotto was on his way out, which is why he announced his farewell fight. I think he picked Sadam Ali, hoping it would be a safe bet - a blown up Welterweight. Sadam Ali's had one fight at Super-Welterweight and he won. Ali boxed very well, he's an Olympian," explained the Liverpudlian.
"He's only lost to Jessie Vargas, who's a world class Welterweight. It's one I know I'll have to be at my very best to win, but it's one that I'm very confident of going and doing."
Since losing his belt to Canelo Alvarez, Smith then became embroiled in a fierce rivalry with Williams. Now that is out the way, the 29-year-old wants to return to the top and says he's earned his shot.
"I wanted to right the wrong with the Williams fight. A lot of people wrote me off for that. I forced that rematch, it was me who forced the rematch with Williams. I think I've corrected that. Now I'm due it [the World Title shot] and rightly so," added Smith.