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In this corner with Russ Anber: New York bound with Smith

Russ Anber gives his view from the Liam Smith camp as he prepares to be in the corner on Saturday night for Beefy’s Madison Square Garden showdown with Jessie Vargas…

I’m already in New York – Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith and I got here on Thursday last week. After his great victory against Anthony Fowler last October this is another high profile and tough fight for Beefy. Beating Jessie Vargas isn’t a gimme by any stretch of the imagination, even though Vargas is coming up in weight.

Over the last few days, Beefy has looked good in the gym. His weight is on point and he’s got his strategy in place in terms of what he wants to do. The whole team are here now – Liam’s brothers Paul and Swifty have been here for a few days and Callum arrived on Wednesday so everything is falling into place.

I’m very excited about the fight because – let’s be honest – when you work in boxing, very few things can compare to a fight week and a fight night at Madison Square Garden. I absolutely love working at the Garden and I’m fortunate enough to have worked a lot of fights there over the years – in fact I’ve even lost track of exactly how many times I’ve been there!

MSG is such a special place. It’s a story I’ve told before but an experience that really sums up my feelings about the Garden was when Callum Smith was there fighting Hassan N’Dam on the Ruiz-Joshua undercard in June 2019. That night I was standing on the ring apron and I turned to Paul Smith and said: ‘this is exactly the sport where Angelo Dundee stood with Muhammad Ali back in 1971.’ That to me sums up the appeal and the history that you feel all around you when you’re at Madison Square Garden.

People have been speculating about whether Beefy will land a world title fight next if he beats Vargas. I don’t know if that’s what Matchroom are planning for him and as far as I’m concerned that doesn’t matter right now – all that matters is Beefy getting this fight out of the way by beating Vargas. It doesn’t matter what plans are in place if you don’t get the ‘W’ and that’s what we have to make sure Beefy does on Saturday night. Everything we are doing right now is focused on being prepared for Saturday.

Once this fight is out of the way – and hopefully Beefy has won – we can start thinking about the next step. Making this fight count is all that matters right now.

I’ve worked with Beefy for several years. If I’m not mistaken our working relationship goes back to the night he first won the WBO world title back in 2015 when his then trainer Joe Gallagher brought me in to work his corner. Since that night I’ve only missed a couple of Beefy’s fights but for the most part I’ve been with him for seven years now.

One of the things I love most about Beefy is that he is such a competitor. Whether he’s playing me on the snooker or the pool table, or he’s in the prize ring, he’s just such a competitive guy, to the extent that he gets visibly upset if he doesn’t win!

Beefy always wants to win in whatever he does, and when he prepares he always prepares to win. That’s a great character trait to have, to be that committed to winning and I’m sure he will demonstrate that formidable desire to win once again on Saturday night.

I’m also excited about the Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano fight, which tops the bill at MSG. This is a great fight and probably the highest-profile female fight we’ve ever had. Katie and Amanda are both genuine fighters – they’re as legit as they come. It’s an intriguing match-up, although I’m disappointed that with the firepower these women both pack that they are fighting two-minute rounds rather than three-minute rounds. I know two-minute rounds are standard in female boxing but a fight of this magnitude really deserves to be fought under the full Marquess of Queensbury rules.

Russ Anber was talking to Luke G. Williams.

Russ Anber is the founder/CEO of Rival Boxing, as well as a highly respected trainer (of both pros and amateurs), a gym owner, a cut-man, an entrepreneur, a broadcaster and one of the best hand wrappers in the boxing business. Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, Artur Beterbiev, Callum Smith and Michael Conlan are among the many top boxers Russ currently works with.