WHEN it was announced Liam Smith would no longer be fighting Michel Soro for the vacant WBO world light-middleweight title, but John Thompson instead, not many outside of America recognised the name.

Promotional issues forced Soro to step aside meaning the opportunity was handed to Thompson, ranked fifth in the world by the WBO.

He earned that ranking through his victories in ESPN’s Boxcino tournament earlier in the year as a late replacement and heavy underdog. His entry into the tournament marked the end of a year-long hiatus after his first professional loss – a second round knockout defeat to Frank Galarza.

Decision wins over Ricardo Pinell and Stanyslav Skorokhod booked Thompson’s place in the final against the talented Brandon Adams, who was expected to prevail and looked on course to when he dropped Thompson in the opening round.

The New Jersey native responded in kind though, dropping Adams with a monstrous left hook and forcing referee David Mendoza to stop the fight.

Now, the 26-year-old will fight outside of America for the first time as a professional to challenge Smith for the vacant world title at the Manchester Arena in England.

However, he is not concerned about making the trip.

“As a boxer, I used to travel all over so that’s nothing for me,” he said.

“A lot of people feel pressure when being away from home, but I don’t see it like that. I just see it as another stage for me to perform on. I’ve got quite a few people from New Jersey who will be there and I’ve also got family in Scotland who will be attending.”

Thompson began boxing at the age of four after his father, John Thompson III, introduced him to the sport and he racked up an impressive amateur career, winning several Golden Gloves titles along the way.

However, boxing isn’t his only passion. John is also a painter outside of the ring and has made a fair bit of money from his work, producing paintings for the likes of Andre Ward and Miley Cyrus.

He also takes requests through his Instagram account.

“I’m also an artist outside of the ring, just as much as I am inside of it, I guess I like putting things on the canvas,” he said.