Stephen Smith defeated Devis Boschiero by TKO in six rounds to earn a shot at the IBF super featherweight world title.
The Liverpudlian, who’s only career loss came back in 2011 against the brilliant Lee Selby, dominated proceedings right from the first bell.
Boschiero came into the fight having lost on only three occasions in 41 fights, including a 12 round split decision defeat against then WBC super featherweight champion, Takahiro Ao.
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Smith used his superior boxing skills well in the first round; he moved well, threw a number of good body blows, landed a decent amount of jabs, and managed to avoid a few wild left hooks from Boschiero.
In the second round, Smith landed with one of the best punches he is ever likely to throw. Boschiero came forward and tried to land a right hand, but before it reached him, Smith had already delivered a beautiful right hook of his own which caught Boschiero flush on the chin. Another knock down followed after a flurry of punches from Smith, however, there wasn’t the same power behind any of the punches compared to the first knockdown.
To his credit, Boschiero came out in the third round and tried to work on the front foot. His timing, though, was poor and despite almost catching Smith with a big left hook, he barely landed a telling blow for the whole of the round. Smith boxed efficiently and continued to pepper Boschiero’s tiring body.
By the fourth round, Boschiero had become a walking target for Smith. The left eye of the veteran Italian had become almost completely shut; a true testament to the amount of punishment he had taken. Smith landed a number of beautiful blows in the round and Boschiero decided to take a knee in the latter stages. He had the look of a dejected man.
In the fifth, Boschiero tried to cramp up Smith for space, but in doing so, was just walking into shots. Boschiero did have some success with his left hook, however, Smith ended the round with a number of excellent body blows.
In the sixth round, Boschiero landed a nice right hook early on but Smith wasn’t too troubled by it. A few seconds later, Smith landed a sickening left hook to the body which dropped Boschiero. The brave ex world-title challenger made it to his feet, but towards the end of the round Smith landed another huge left to the body which signalled the end of the fight.
Smith became the first man to ever stop Boschiero and was in high spirits after the fight. He said: “I knew the body shots would play a part and we were adamant they would hurt him…and they did."
Eddie Hearn, Smith’s promoter, said: “He can go to sleep knowing that his next fight will be for the IBF world title. It’s a great time for him and that was a career-best performance."