It’s been a terrific year for British boxing and Liam Smith kept the trend going over the weekend, as he stopped John Thompson in Round 7 to claim the vacant WBO super welterweight belt. Although, honesty requires me to note that it’s tough to take Smith vs. Thompson seriously as a world title fight. Neither man entered the fight with a victory over a true contender at 154 pounds.
Still, it’s a very good win for Smith. Thompson had looked very impressive in his successful run through the ESPN Boxcino Tournament earlier this year. By stopping his American opponent and claiming an alphabet soup belt, Smith does now have a solid claim to top-10 standing in the division.
Smith’s status as a belt holder also puts him on the radar for high-profile fights with such fixtures in the weight class as Demetrius Andrade, Vanes Martirosyan and Austin Trout. He’s in position now to prove that’s he is legitimately a top star in the sport. The 154-pound class is one of the sport’s most talent-laden, so there are a huge number of major fights that can be made.
But the biggest story of the night in Manchester was probably WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan’s two-round annihilation of Diego Magdaleno. The victory kept Flanagan undefeated, improving him to 29-0 with 12 KOs.
It’s an outstanding win for Flanagan’s resume. Magdaleno’s only previous loss had come by split decision against Roman Martinez, when he challenged for the WBO super featherweight crown.
Flanagan became the WBO champion last July, when he captured the vacant strap after the previously undefeated Jose Zepeda was forced to quit on his stool with a separated shoulder. In a fair world, Zepeda should receive a rematch after he has healed. But if Flanagan can prevail again, he’ll be well positioned to make a real claim to top-dog status at lightweight.
The 135-pound division is pretty wide open, with no true dominant fighter campaigning there. Flanagan’s quick work against Magdaleno puts a lot of eye on him.