STEPHEN SMITH could have a super-featherweight world title shot by the end of the year after an IBF final eliminator with 37-3 (19) Italian Devis Boschiero moved closer and now looks likely for Matchroom’s big September 12 London at the O2 show. Smith, 22-1 (12), is the IBF’s No. 5 and second-ranked with the WBC so has admirable options. The WBC ordered a final eliminator between Liverpool’s “Swifty” and Francisco Vargas the day before the other group did the same with Stephen and third-rated Romain Jacob, who rejected the opportunity before Boschiero – a former world title challenger who has lost twice to the Frenchman and is currently unrated by the IBF – got the call.

“I’ve seen a bit of him,” Smith remarked of Boschiero. “I watched the most recent Jacob fight [Devis lost unanimously in October last year following his dropping a split verdict first time around] because I thought I was going to fight Jacob. Boschiero has a good back hand on him, and it’s a tough fight but it always will be at this level; we thought it was more likely him coming to the UK than getting Vargas over here.

“I’m gonna go into this fight believing I’ll win. This is only an eliminator in London, so I can still win and defend the world title in Liverpool. The champion is Jose Pedraza who tends to box all his big fights as a southpaw even though he turned pro as an orthodox.”

Smith also backed his younger brother Callum’s decision to face local super-middleweight Rocky Fielding for the vacant British belt even though he could soon be in line for a nworld title shot. “I’d probably do the same as Callum if I was as confident of winning as he is,” Stephen pointed out. “There’s no chance Fielding beats Callum, we all went to the same amateur club [Rotunda ABC] and I watched ’em both right through from the amateurs, so I know.”