Born on July 27, 1988 in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, Liam Smith comes from a boxing family, as his three brothers also became professional boxers. He had a strong amateur career, winning the 2007 and 2008 ABA Championships, and then deciding to turn pro.
He had his first fight on October 10, 2008 against Duncan Cottier, who sported a 2-43-3 record. Smith cruised to an easy decision victory on points after four rounds. In his next fight two months later, he got his first stoppage with an impressive first-round TKO of John Van Emmenis.
In his next three fights, he picked up three wins on points, albeit against weak competition. All the boxers he faced had losing records, and his sixth fight against the 6-5-4 Terry Carruthers was his first against anyone with a winning record. It wasn’t a good performance by Liam Smith, as he couldn’t do enough to get the win. Instead, the fight was ruled a draw after four rounds.
To his credit, Smith bounced back well after that draw, scoring a TKO over Matt Scriven in the second round on December 11, 2010. On September 17, 2011, he took on his toughest opponent to that point in the 16-8 Barrie Jones and won by KO in the third round. He followed that up less than a month later with a first-round KO over Gerard Healy.
Despite his string of three consecutive finishes, he wasn’t the most highly regarded prospect at that point in his career. He had good technique and solid power. He was facing low-level competition, but that’s common to start a career, especially in England. However, he wasn’t as active as many fighters were when starting out, occasionally having breaks of six months or more between fights.
After running his record to 12-0-1 and staying very active throughout 2012, he got to fight for the Commonwealth light middleweight title on December 15, 2012 against Steve O’Meara. He took the fight by unanimous decision after 12 rounds. Two fights later, he earned the British light middleweight title when he beat Erick Ochieng by 12-round unanimous decision.
Liam Smith went on one of the more impressive runs of his career next, as he started landing harder shots on his opponents and put together a streak of eight consecutive finishes from December 7, 2013 to June 4, 2016. He also added three belts to his collection over that winning streak, the WBA Continental light middleweight title, the WBO Inter-Continental light middleweight title and the WBO light middleweight title.
That set up his first match outside of England, as he traveled to Arlington, Texas on September 17, 2016 to take on the Mexican superstar, Saul Canelo Alvarez. Many felt that he would be outmatched by Canelo, who was much larger and seen as the far superior boxer. Unfortunately for Smith, those predictions proved accurate. He fought hard throughout the contest, but Canelo dropped him in the seventh and eighth rounds with powerful punches, and then finished him off with a brutal left hook to the body in round nine, wiping out his undefeated record.