Magomed Kurbanov vs Liam Smith: Beefy can get back into world title mix with win

Britain's Smith returns for the first time since his 2019 victory against Roberto Garcia but faces a huge test in Russia as the away fighter.

Former WBO junior middleweight world champion Liam "Beefy" Smith is set to enter enemy territory.

Smith, from Liverpool, England, will battle undefeated Russian contender Magomed Kurbanov for the vacant WBO International junior middleweight title Friday at KRK Uralets in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Smith-Kurbanov will headline a scheduled five-fight card streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ starting at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT.

Smith (29-2-1, 16 KOs) held the WBO junior middleweight world title from 2015-2016 before losing to Canelo Alvarez via ninth-round stoppage.

Smith has a tough but winnable fight

"Beefy" has a challenge on his hands this weekend in a fight which has gone under the radar.

Smith returns to 154-pounds and takes on a Kurbanov who is ranked at No.5 by the WBA.

The Russian is undefeated in 21 bouts with 13 ending inside the distance.

His most notable victory came in November 2019, when he outlasted longtime contender Diego Chaves over 12 rounds.

Smith, however, has a record of 6-1 since defeat to Alvarez with victories over Sam Eggington and Liam Williams.

His only other defeat is against another Mexican in Jaime Munguia.

Who is fighting on the undercard?

Welterweight contender Eduard Skavynskyi (13-0, 7 KOs), who was born in Ukraine and now resides in Yekaterinburg, will fight former world title challenger Joel Julio (39-5, 33 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

In a 10-round showdown for the vacant WBO European junior featherweight belt, Evgenii Liashkov (8-1, 2 KOs) will go for his ninth consecutive victory against Mukhammad Shekhov (8-0-1, 3 KOs), a one-time amateur standout for his native Uzbekistan.

Enriko Gogokhia (12-0, 7 KOs), a former professional kickboxing standout from the nation of Georgia, will look to extend his knockout streak to five against Gustavo David Vittori (24-7-1, 12 KOs) in an eight-round junior welterweight contest.

Southpaw boxer-puncher Zafar Parpiev (9-2, 2 KOs), who is coming off a December knockout win over the previously undefeated Turat Osmonov, will fight Filipino veteran Alphoe Dagayloan (14-4-6, 5 KOs) in an eight-rounder at junior bantamweight.