On paper, this was an exciting clash and perhaps the first real benefit of a 'pact' between Hatton Promotions, Frank Warren and other promoters involved in subscription channel BoxNation. Buckland was fighting on home soil and making the third belt-keeping defence of his super featherweight title.
The excitement didn't necessarily come across in a scrappy opening round, with Buckland industrious but inaccurate and Smith prone to hold. Smith staved off Buckland's pressure with good back foot movement, but didn't look as if he'd have the power to cause the tough-as-nails, come-forward Buckland any trouble early doors.
Looks were deceiving. Smith sensed that he hurt Buckland early in the fourth with a well delivered right hand, but Buckland shook off the onslaught and set about pinning Smith down. The Welshman had sustained a cut to the eye. Smith's corner urged him to keep calm and stick to his boxing.
In the fifth, Smith planted an exquisitely timed right uppercut that made Buckland fall instantly to the canvas, unconscious. The Liverpool fighter's celebrations were muted until he could see that Buckland had recovered from the shot.
Smith said after the fight: "You've seen a performance tonight against the best in the division. Gary Buckland is as tough as they come. He's relentless and strong. He only needs one more to keep the belt and he's mandatory for the European. He's a great kid. I'm not being disrespectful to him, but you've seen how I Ieft him."
Talking about the punch that took Buckland out:
"We worked on it all the time in the changing rooms. He (traner, Joe Gallagher) said don't do it right away, but after four rounds I wanted to start doing it. The first time i got it off, it ended the fight. All credit to the dedication of this man next to me."
Trainer Joe Gallagher said: "Stephen had hurt him in the round earlier, and I told him no, your time will come. It's great when a shot works, and comes off. I'm so proud of him.
With older brother Paul holding the British super middleweight strap, and younger brother Liam fighting Erick Ochieng for the light middleweight version on September 21, the Smith brothers could soon be holding the British title in three weight divisions.
Trainer Joe Gallagher said: "I feel that's redemption for Stephen Smith tonight, to join his brother, and there's no pressure on Liam Smith now, he's next up."
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