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Jacob Smith: From Everton trials to the cusp of ONE Championship stardom: 'My goal is to be flyweight world champion'

Jacob Smith has left his troubled youth behind him to climb the ranks at ONE Championship, aiming for the flyweight world title; Watch Smith on the Regian Eersel vs Alexis Nicolas world title fight bill live on Sky Sports Action from midnight on Saturday morning

Jacob Smith
Image: Liverpool's Jacob Smith, hoping to earn a world title shot, fights tonight live on Sky Sports

Jacob Smith wasn't ever handed an opportunity. Instead, the Liverpudlian had to create one.

On the ONE Championship Regian Eersel vs Alexis Nicolas card, live on Sky Sports in the early hours of Saturday morning, Smith has the chance to punch his ticket to a flyweight Muay Thai world title shot when he meets Denis Puric in Bangkok, Thailand.

But it wasn't always this way for him.

Growing up in Birkenhead, Liverpool, Smith had a promising career ahead of him in football. He ascended through the local ranks and captured the label as one to watch, even having trials at Everton Football Club when he was 13.

One day, though, Smith woke up and decided football wasn't for him anymore. And without a stable family to fall back on, his life began to revolve around local gangs.

"It was just like you'd imagine. I was running everywhere, doing bits and bobs. Anything I could do to make money," Smith said.

"I'll be honest with you, I was a right [fool] as a teenager. When I was 13 or 14 until I was about 18, I thought I was an absolute top boy.

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"I don't know how I got away with it."

Jacob Smith and Rodtang after their fight
Image: Jacob Smith and Rodtang after their fight

Smith was doing what he could with the opportunities in front of him to make ends meet. That's when he met his future wife, Rebekah, who wasn't a fan of such activities.

Rebekah was already involved in the world of Muay Thai, and she yearned for a better life for the duo. With that, she gave the fellow Liverpudlian an ultimatum.

"Once my little girl was born, Bekki said to me: 'Listen, you've got this path you could come down with me in Thai boxing, and let's see how far you can go with it, or you can stay on the path you're on now, but you won't be doing it with me,'" Smith previously told

"So, she gave me that ultimatum, Plan A or Plan B. So I said: 'OK, that's it. From this point on, I'm going with you.'"

Initially, Smith had no idea what Muay Thai consisted of. But from the moment Rebekah placed a pair of gloves on his hands and held up the mitts, that's when the Birkenhead bomber knew better things were ahead.

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All the heavy-hitting action and devastating knockouts from a ONE Championship fight night in Bangkok.

Smith cut ties with his old life. He dedicated himself to "the art of eight limbs," hoping to provide a better life for his girlfriend and their young daughter.

From there, his talents prospered. Across 19 professional outings, he claimed 15 victories and five knockouts. Also, he was riding a seven-fight winning streak, all of which caught the attention of ONE Championship.

The Briton's promotional debut came in May 2022, as he immediately fought the legendary ONE flyweight Muay Thai world champion, Rodtang Jitmuangnon. Smith was bested by unanimous decision that night. And as subsequent injuries put him on the sidelines for 18 months, he was left eager to get back to action.

Cool, calm and collected, Smith returned to the ring last December to knock out No 3 ranked Walter Goncalves inside the first round. That win instantly placed the Birkenhead bomber among the division's elite alongside Rodtang and No 1 ranked Superlek Kiatmoo9.

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Superlek Kiatmoo9 retained his ONE flyweight kickboxing world title against Takeru Segawa in a fight packed with relentless action.

The Liverpudlian anticipates a future clash between the iconic Thais, but he'll be patiently waiting for his chance to lock horns with whoever holds the ONE flyweight Muay Thai world title.

"Well, Rodtang is the champion and Superlek is No 1. The way I see it, after beating Walter is that I'm now No 2. I think that's right. Rodtang and Superlek are probably going to fight each other again soon, then I should get the shot at the winner after I beat Puric," Smith said.

"My goal is to be ONE Championship flyweight Muay Thai world champion and fingers crossed by the end of the year like that comes through."

Watch Jacob Smith on the Regian Eersel vs Alexis Nicolas world title fight bill live on Sky Sports Action from midnight on Saturday morning

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