LIVERPOOL’S Stephen Smith will travel to Las Vegas on December 9 to fight Francisco Vargas. It’s a non-title bout but Smith hopes victory will put in the frame for another world championship fight.

“Stephen Smith, December 9 a huge opportunity for him,” his trainer Joe Gallagher told Boxing News. “Originally it was the European title fight, then an offer came in for [Orlando] Salido and then he ended up with Francisco Vargas, who’s been in fight of the year for the last three years. He’s absolutely been in some right wars. It’s a huge opportunity for Stephen Smith. I think he’s the first Scouser since John Conte in the 70s to fight in Las Vegas. That’s a huge thing. I was really surprised when I read that somewhere.”

Joe continued, “Stephen is headlining a big fight there, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, a 10 round contest. The reward is worth the risk. If you look at the WBC top 10 super-featherweight ranks, I think the top seven are Mexican. Such a strong division, the strongest division in world boxing, super-featherweight. It’s just a shame, he’s travelled twice before, New York then Monaco, unfortunate and he goes again. I think he’s eight or nine in the WBC [rankings], Vargas is two. He’ll put himself back in the picture for a world title fight. He’s got it all to gain and not much to lose.”

Stephen Smith

It will surely be a tough fight. In itself expect a thriller. “I think there’s no shortcuts in that division, if you look at the champions in the division,” Gallagher explained. “If you got through that top 10, you think wow. It’s unbelievable, tough division.

“I think world title eliminators are as good as world title fights.”