Former IBF middleweight champion Darren Barker says Stephen Smith is “more than capable” of securing the WBA super-featherweight title when he makes his second attempt against Jason Sosa on Saturday.
Smith came up short on his first challenge for world honours after travelling to Connecticut in April where he gave IBF king Jose Pedraza a stiff test.
He lost out on points that time but Barker believes he can prevail against American Sosa.
Barker told Sportsclubsociety News HQ: “Stephen [Smith] has the experience, he lost out the first time out against Pedraza, he is a fantastic, slick world champion. He came up short there but he is more than capable [of winning the title].
“This time around he faces a different task. In the previous challenge he was fighting a guy who was quite slippery and a slick boxer. Sosa is different altogether. He is a tough, come-forward, box-fighter type of opponent.”
He added: “This is a real make-or-break fight for Stephen and this could be his last shot. I am a big supporter of Stephen and his family – it would be great to see him pick up a world title and keep this Smith family story going.”
Also in action at the Salle des Etoiles in Monte Carlo this weekend is heavyweight Luis Ortiz, who faces 36-year-old American Malik Scott. Ortiz is targeting his 26th straight victory and Smith is confident ‘King Kong’ can come away with the honours.
“To be honest, I am big fan of Ortiz,” said Barker. “Malik Scott is an experienced fighter and has been in there with some good names and some experienced fighters.
“But the stage is set for Ortiz to really announce himself on the world scene. A lot of the boxing public know who he is, but a lot of British fans are not aware of him yet.
“He is a superb southpaw fighter from Cuba. He has a superb amateur background, he is a big puncher and can move. At 37-years-old, some may say he is potentially on the downward spiral but that is not the case.”
The exciting card also includes six-time world champion Jamie McDonnell’s bout with Liberio Solis for the WBA bantamweight title. McDonnell, who told Sportsclubsociety News HQ he would happily move up to super-bantamweight to take on Scott Quigg next year, does not receive the recognition he deserves, according to Barker.
“He’s been around, he’s an experienced fighter, as is everyone on this card. Jamie [McDonnell] for me is probably Britain’s most underrated boxer. He has had some fantastic wins,” added Barker.
“He fought Tomoki Kameda – who is fantastic champion – and he beat him twice, so I fancy Jamie in this one.
“It will be a very entertaining fight, toe to toe. I personally think Jamie is one of our underrated fighters, he is a lovely lad and I hope he comes away with a win.”
Watch Luis Ortiz, Jamie McDonnell, Stephen Smith and Martin Murray in Monte Carlo this Saturday, starting at 7pm on Sportsclubsociety 2.