By Shaun Brown
Eddie Hearn has a lot of faith and expectation in his young super-middleweight prospect Callum Smith 10-0 (8) and this was intensified even more when Matchroom’s Boxing promoter talked last week about the bigger picture for the 24-year-old and expects the rising star to be in the “mega domestic Super Middleweight mix within 18 months”.
Big statements from boxing promoters are par for the course but with Smith it’s easy to see why most people are excited about his future. But when BoxingScene caught up with him earlier this week, I asked him if he agreed with Hearn’s comments.
“Yes and no,” he responded. “To be at that level I’ll have to be fast forwarded in my career. It’ll be about getting the right fights at the right time and staying injury free. But if they [Matchroom] do their job and get me the right fights at the right time then I’m sure there’s no reason why I can’t be at that level in 18 months.”
This weekend sees Smith in his first ‘test’ when he faces Tobias Webb 14-1-1 (2) over ten rounds in Cardiff, Wales in the first defence of his WBC International Super Middleweight title. With the bout taking place in the challenger’s home country and having only lost to unbeaten domestic rival Rocky Fielding during a Prizefigher tournament final in 2011 there is a little bit more pressure on Smith than normal but as he pointed out, it’s nothing he’s not faced before.
“It won’t bother me too much,” said Smith when discussing the prospect of fighting away from home.
“In the amateurs you do that all the time. You’re constantly going to different countries and fighting the home nation, you’ve just got to blank it out. It’s just you and him when the bell goes and if you stick to your gameplan then it won’t really make too much of a difference.”
And his days as an amateur fighting in some hostile territories brought back a memory from 2010 for the Liverpudlian.
“I went to the Commonwealth Federation Tournament just before the 2010 Commonwealth Games which was a warm-up one and I drew the India fighter in the first round in Delhi! It was a bit rowdy, I wasn’t welcomed. I beat him by a point and every time he threw a shot they were all screaming and it was a bit off putting especially because I was wondering if the shot scored or not. When I was getting back to the corner I was expecting to be down but I was getting told I wasn’t. I was just told to ignore the screaming. You’ve just got to blank it out and concentrate on your own game.”
It’s been 18 months since Smith made his professional debut on the Carl Froch-Yusaf Mack undercard in Nottingham. Ten opponents have faced him in total since that November night, all defeated with eight of them not going the distance thanks mainly to the sickening power that Smith carries in his shots. But ‘Mundo’, as he is affectionately known, is a little bit surprised himself by the impact he’s made.
“Obviously I’ve always said I’m confident in my own ability. I’m unbeaten in the first 18 months of my career and I expected that but if you told me I’d have had eight knockouts out of ten and six in the first round then I wouldn’t have believed you. When I turned pro I didn’t expect to finish many so early so I think that’s surprised me. I’m young for my age and I’ve got a lot of maturing to do, I still feel that now. I haven’t got my man strength yet and my power is improving all the time.”
The next 12 months could be bringing titles of the world variety for at least two out of the four of fighting Smith brothers. Paul, 31, the current British super middleweight champion is rumoured to be facing Arthur Abraham for the German’s WBO strap before the year is out while Stephen, 28, faces Fernando Saucedo for the WBC Silver Super Feathweight title next Weds (May 21) in Leeds. A win would take him one step closer to a crack at Takashi Miura’s green belt. And Liam, 25, the current British Light Middleweight champion is improving with every performance. So what odds on all four of them becoming world champions during their careers?
“That’s the plan, that’s the dream really. It’s not as unrealistic as people say. Paul and Stephen are going to be within touching distance this year and I’m sure Liam’s confident and I’m confident I can. We all put the work in and hopefully with a bit of luck there’s no reason why we all can’t finish our careers with a world title.”
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