Williams and Smith fight is upgraded to interim world title status

Liam Smith and Liam Williams

Unbeaten British champion Liam Williams and bitter rival Liam Smith's fight next month will now be for the interim WBO super-welterweight title.

Former WBO champion Smith fought in Barcelona last weekend and following his victory, the WBO have sanctioned the upgrade of the 8 April fight.

Champion Saul Alvarez is expected to vacate the title and will next face Julio Caesar Chavez at catch-weight.

"This is a massive opportunity for me," said Williams. "It is a huge fight."

Smith and Williams headline a bill at the Manchester Arena.

"This is going to be a proper fight and I'm delighted that Frank (Warren, promoter) keeps on delivering these opportunities for me," Welshman Williams said.

"I was already massively motivated for the Smith fight but this has given me another big boost. I've been working towards an opportunity like this all of my career and I'll be bringing that belt back to Wales with me."

Smith lost out to Alvarez in September 2016, but does not expect the opportunity of a rematch, even if he beats Williams.

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez on his way to victory over Liam Smith in September 2016
Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez on his way to victory over Liam Smith in September 2016

"I said I would be a world champion again in 2017 and this is my opportunity," Smith explained.

"The winner of this is a world champion in waiting. I don't think Canelo (Alvarez's nickname) has any intention of defending the 154lbs world title," he said.

"This is a win-win situation for me. If I beat Williams I'll be in an unbelievable position again.

"If Canelo decides to defend his belt I think I could do a million times better against him in a rematch. It was well publicised that I had the worst training camp of my career heading into that fight.

"He's a world-class fighter and I want to test myself against elite fighters. But first and foremost I have to beat Liam Williams."

Promoter Warren added: "I am delighted to have delivered this opportunity for these two outstanding fighters. This fight has all the ingredients to be a fight-of-the-year contender and now, with the added prize of the interim belt, there is more than just pride on the line for both."

Smith tuned up for the Williams fight and put himself in line for the interim title opportunity by beating Marian Cazacu in Barcelona on points in a four-round fight on 18 March.

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