Steve O'Meara talks Liam Smith fight
All Southern Area light middleweight champion Steve O’Meara wanted for Christmas was a date to work towards. Having progressed from prospect to contender over the past twelve months, the Hammersmith born 28 year old was hoping to spend the festive season with trainer Jim McDonnell preparing for a major title opportunity in the first knockings of 2013. Instead, Christmas came early and O’Meara, 16-2 (5), will fight Liverpool’s Liam Smith, 12-0-1 (5), for the Commonwealth light middleweight belt at London’s Excel Arena on December 15th.
“I’m chuffed at being able to fight for a major domestic title before the end of the year. I’m really happy.” O’Meara told Livefight recently. “A couple of weeks ago there was a rumour that they were gonna try and arrange some kind of title fight for me. They didn’t say which but I was working out which it could be because there’s only a few about. I guessed at Commonwealth or some kind of intercontinental title but I only really found out that it was confirmed when everybody else did.
“I’m always ready for twelve hard rounds. I’ve had great sparring and a great training camp so far. This is my chance to make a breakthrough and really kick on from here,” he continued. “It’s something that I and the people around me have always believed from the beginning; that I can really kick on and prove myself to be the best light middleweight in the country. That’s my goal. I’m really excited.”
Having been thought of as a ‘non puncher’ earlier in his career, O’Meara has been one of BoxNation’s major successes. His three appearances on the channel have garnered three successive quick knockouts and it’s probably fair to say that he would already have been mixing at championship level for a few months were it not for a frustrating run of injury, illness and bad fortune.
Smith is very unlikely to fall as quickly as O’Meara’s recent opponents though. The 24 year old has looked impressive in recent months and arguably produced a career best performance last time out when he outfought, outthought and out worked the then 16-3-1 Gary McMillan over ten one sided rounds in a British title eliminator. ‘Beefy’ looks like the type of fighter who will relish both the occasion and the challenge of facing a highly rated opponent and, with trainer Joe Gallagher and his famous fighting brothers Paul, Stephen and Callum in his corner, has undoubtedly served a thorough and demanding apprenticeship. Surprisingly however, Smith has only recently appeared on O’Meara’s radar.
“As far as I knew, up until his last fight he was a welterweight. I was obviously looking out for people in my weight class but when he fought the eliminator a couple of weeks ago, that was the first time I really took notice,” he says. “He’s around my weight now and now we’re meeting. I watch quite a lot of British boxing and I’ve seen him around and he looks like a good fighter and it looks like a good match.
“I’m not expecting to be blowing him away at all. I’m ready for twelve hard rounds. I think he could be a bit surprised by my power but like you say, he’s never shown any reason to doubt his punch resistance before and I’m ready for twelve rounds. I’m sure he is too.”
Steve Bunce spoke about the contest following Joe Selkirk’s victory on last Friday’s David Price – Matt Skelton bill. The talented but rarely seen Selkirk outpointed O’Meara over six rounds two years ago and Bunce suggested that the 27 year old Liverpudlian is a natural opponent for the winner of the O’Meara v Smith fight. Unsurprisingly, the opportunity to even the score with Selkirk is one which O’Meara would grab with both hands.
“Since we fought last time he probably hasn’t been as active as he’d like,” said O’Meara. “At first people were talking about him maybe moving to middleweight – I don’t know if that’s right or not – but like Bunce said if Smith wins it could be a showdown in Liverpool. I think they’re mates though so I don’t know how that’d go but obviously if I win then I definitely think we’ve got some unfinished business. Down in London, that’d be a great fight. I think me and him fighting over twelve rounds would be a very good fight.”
The respectful but confident O'Meara departs, no doubt headed to another of Jim McDonnell's infamous training sessions. With another of Britain's most promising 154lb fighters set to face him on December 15th, the training will be needed. George Groves' fight with Glen Johnson may be billed as the evening's main event but Steve O'Meara v Liam Smith might just steal the show.