Stephen Smith cannot be drawn into dogfight with Francisco Vargas, says Spencer Oliver
By Spencer Oliver
Last Updated: 07/12/17 4:42pm
Stephen Smith cannot allow Francisco Vargas to draw him into a brutal dogfight in this weekend's career-changing clash in Las Vegas, says Sky Sports expert Spencer Oliver.
Sky Live: Smith hits Vegas
Stephen Smith makes his Las Vegas debut on a sizzling super-featherweight card at Mandalay Bay.
Smith is at that crossroads stage of his career where a loss would spell the end for him at world level. It's so important he wins this fight, but it's a tough task for him.
Francisco Vargas is a decent fighter with just the one loss on his record. He's taller than Smith and loves to draw opponents into a dogfight, because he works so well on the inside.
Stephen knows at this stage of his career, it's probably his last big chance, and doing it at the Mecca of boxing will bring the best out of him.
For Smith, how he wins this fight, he's got to use his boxing brain. In the past we've seen that Smith likes to come forward, he likes to get into a fight as well, but that could be his undoing. He's got to be intelligent, pick his shots well, and throw the straight shots through the middle. We know Vargas loves to come forward, but he also likes those wide shots and uppercuts on the inside.
Can Smith stay out of trouble for 12 rounds? Vargas sets a high pace, works well from the first bell until the last, and at some point Smith could get drawn into a dogfight, and if he does, that could be crucial.
Speaking as a former fighter, it's everyone's dream to box in Las Vegas. Stephen knows at this stage of his career, it's probably his last big chance, and doing it at the Mecca of boxing will bring the best out of him. If you look through Smith's career, he gives it 100 per cent every time at every level. He'll know this could be his final opportunity and that will spur him on.
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Super-featherweights takes centre stage this weekend with major fights going on across the United States
I really like Stephen as a person, and a fighter - he's one of the nicest guys in boxing - and I'm praying he makes me eat my words. But it's going to be a difficult night for him and I'm going to go for Vargas. Smith will have to come through some torrid times to hear the final bell, but I fear that Vargas will be a clear winner.
Watch Tevin Farmer versus Kenichi Ogawa, Stephen Smith against Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido against Miguel Roman in Las Vegas from 3.20am this Sunday on Sky Sports Action.