Former WBO super welterweight champion Liam Smith kept up his winning streak with a hugely unsatisfactory fourth-round win over Hassan Mwakinyo, who was stopped after twice taking a knee.
Mwakinyo had rolled over on his ankle in the third round, but the Tanzanian’s sudden apparent surrender at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool robbed the fans of any sort of conclusive finish in a fight that was warming up well. Mwakinyo had more than held his own in the three completed rounds, while Smith had barely warmed into the task at hand.
“I don’t know, I wish I could answer your question but I can’t,” Smith said when asked by Sky Sports’ Andy Scott what had happened.
“It robbed me of a proper finish because I didn’t really do much early on. Hassan was quite wild early on but I was quite comfortable, then he landed a couple of punches in round three and then it is over in four. I’m a bit gutted I never gave the fans a proper finish but it was out of my hands.
“I just told them [Mwakinyo’s corner] he quits and you don’t have to be a genius to see that. He said he slipped. He didn’t slip, there is no water there. He quit. I knew he had that in him. That was the sparring story.”
Mwakinyo, 27, who trains in Miami, had won on his previous trip to the UK, when he stunned Sam Eggington in 2018. He had been out of the ring exactly one year since stopping faded former world champion Julius Indongo.
Smith, 34, was having his first fight since signing with BOXXER, having beaten Jessie Vargas in New York in April. His only defeat in six fights since losing a decision to Jaime Munguia for the WBO in 2018 came in a highly debatable decision to Magomed Kurbanov in Moscow.
Smith tends to be a slow starter, but he started getting through with the jab early in the first round, but Mwakinyo was busy and landed a few jabs himself, although he was way off target when trying a big right.
But Smith was happy to stalk the Tanzanian in the second round, but Mwakinyo had some success in the third as he landed a good uppercut that forced Smith to backtrack. He also had good success with the jab, as Smith tended to walk into it.
With 4 seconds remaining in the round, however, Mwakinyo stepped back and seemed to go over on his right ankle. He got up quickly but limped back to his corner. But after some brief treatment he came out firing, landing a series of hooks and then switching to southpaw to land a big left just after the bell went, which led to a furious response from Smith.
Smith began the fourth by putting more pressure on Mwakinyo, but backed into a corner, the Tanzanian landed a good right uppercut. The follow-up punches seemed to miss, but as Smith backed him into the corner again, Mwakinyo seemed to go down to one knee. Smith opened up before referee Victor Loughlin counted it as a knockdown, much to Mwakinyo’s annoyance, as he seemed to indicate he went down because his gumshield had come out, although replays indicated he spat it out deliberately.
Waved back in, Smith opened up, but after Mwakinyo pushed him off, he took a knee again, having stepped back twice gingerly on his injured ankle, although Smith just piled in throwing punches at the prone boxer. Loughlin then waved the fight over as Mwakinyo pointed to his right ankle.
Mwakinyo complained and the crowd booed, while Smith seemed furious at Mwakinyo. The time was 1:46.
“Just get me a big fight, I’ve been moaning about it for ages, people are probably bored of me saying it,” Smith said. “If you look, since Jaime Munguia, I should be unbeaten since then. I beat Fowler and Vargas, I should have beaten Kurbanov. That warrants me another shot or if [Chris] Eubank wants a fight I’ve always said I am here.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 – covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.