Trainer Joe Gallagher has warned Stephen Smith that he cannot switch off for a second against the big-punching Jason Sosa.
The Liverpudlian will attempt to win a world title at the second attempt when he challenges Sosa for the WBA super-featherweight title in Monte Carlo on Saturday night, live on Sportsclubsociety.
Smith fell short when he fought IBF champion Jose Pedraza in April, suffering a ninth round knockdown on the way to a unanimous points defeat.
Sosa, with 15 knockouts in 19 fights, can end a fight at any moment and Gallagher warns Smith cannot afford another lapse of concentration at the top level.
“Sosa is a big puncher, left hook, right hands, he loves the right hand over the top and is a good puncher,” Gallagher told Sportsclubsociety.
“But stylistically it makes for a good fight. Stephen has got good discipline. He knows when he fought Pedraza last time, the levels of concentration have to be 100 per cent for every minute of every round.
“He just switched off for a second against Pedraza and got caught. He got greedy and then Pedraza was away then. We tried to pull him back at the end and it was gone.
“We can’t have that happen to us in Monte Carlo. He’s got to be switched on, because Sosa carries the power to take Stephen out.”
After the disappointment of the Pedraza defeat, Gallagher says Smith is more determined than ever to prove he is a world-class fighter.
Stephen is putting that type of pressure on himself. It’s a huge chance for him.
Gallagher said: “Some people are saying it’s Stephen Smith’s last bite of the cherry. Where does he go if he doesn’t win this? That type of stuff.
“Stephen is putting that type of pressure on himself. It’s a huge chance for him.
“Eddie Hearn has done a great job getting him the fight, the opportunity, and it’s up to Stephen Smith to take care of business now and go out there and do it.
“He has got the tools to do the job.”