Liverpool is arguably England’s premier fight city and tonight at the M&S Bank Arena two of its leading lights clash for local bragging rights and much more as ex-WBO 154lbs champion Liam Smith does battle with former amateur star Anthony Fowler.

Smith has the professional pedigree, having given a decent account of himself against Canelo Alvarez and Jaime Munguia at elite world level and defeating the likes of Liam Williams with his brand of swarming but educated pressure.

Fowler, meanwhile, has bounced back from a chastening defeat against the wily but unpredictable Scott Fitzgerald to reinvent himself as a smoother, more well-rounded box-fighter under the tutelage of the excellent Shane McGuigan.

To his credit, Fowler is taking a considerable risk here, perhaps banking that Smith is on the slide. But the former world champion has never lost to domestic opposition and believes that statistic isn’t likely to change any time soon.

So who will prevail? Boxing Social’s intrepid band of writers and fortune tellers attempt to predict the outcome. 

Anthony Fowler is best known for his performance and defeat against Scott Fitzgerald. The rest of his victories in addition don’t point to anything that suggests he can beat Liam Smith at this stage of his career. Working with Shane McGuigan appears to have improved his patience in the ring as well as the fundamentals making him a solid all-rounder. Liam Smith narrowly lost in Russia (most thought he won) against Magomed Kurbanov, broke down Sam Eggington and has two wins over Liam Williams, not to mention his 12 rounds with Jaime Munguia and the nine rounds he went with Canelo. Liam Smith hasn’t looked ripe for the taking at this level and the performance against Kurbanov would beat Fowler. I expect the underdog to look like he belongs with Smith in the first few rounds before the body work and machine-like method of Smith to up the pace leaving Fowler forced to hang tough but ultimately come unstuck and be stopped in the 8th. – Shaun Brown.

I think Anthony Fowler – with Shane McGuigan in his corner – beats Liam Smith on points. Smith looked pretty decent when fighting Kurbanov, but he took a while to get going. I haven’t watched him fight in the last few years and been excited/convinced he’d still blow British fighters away. Fowler certainly has his own flaws, and there’s a danger he’ll be too keen on impressing. But I’ll take the fresher professional to nick it. – Craig Scott.

Anthony Fowler has looked much improved under the tutelage of Shane McGuigan, but I suspect those performances flatter to deceive. It is easy to look like a well-rounded fighter against the likes of Jorge Fortea and Rico Mueller, it is another to do so against Smith. That is not to say Smith is a world-beater, he’s currently fringe world level, but he is far more accomplished than anyone ‘The Machine’ has beaten. If it wasn’t for the McGuigan-factor, I’d comfortably pick Smith by late stoppage or wide decision. However, McGuigan tends to step his fighters up at the right time, his work with another maligned Team GB Olympian, Lawrence Okolie, is testament to that. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that Fowler starts brightly before becoming fatigued and drawn into Smith’s fight in the second half. I’ll go for Smith by decision, but with no degree of confidence. – John A. MacDonald.

I like Liam Smith by decision or late stoppage. I think Fowler will fade as he seems big at the weight and would probably be better served moving up. McGuigan is a top trainer and if anyone can conjure a way for Fowler to win it’s him, but Smith’s experience in higher professional class will enable him to shade it. – Luke G. Williams.

I expect Fowler to start fast, look sharp for the first half of the fight and the experience and tenacity of Smith to pull him into deep waters late on. Fowler has apparently looked in fine form in the gym and can boast the excellent McGuigan in his corner, but I don’t think Smith is quite done yet. He’s as tough as they come with so much experience in the bank. Think this will head to the cards with three differing interpretations from the judges. Draw. – Mark Butcher.

Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.