Callum Smith will showcase his ring skills in America this weekend - just two years since he endured Olympic heartache in the amateur ranks.
The 24-year-old super-middleweight, considered one of the hottest prospects in Britain, makes his US debut against Ahsandi Gibbs, on the undercard of Kell Brook’s world title challenge against Shawn Porter in Carson, California.
He has wasted little time since turning professional in November 2012, picking up 12 wins, including nine inside the distance, and will feature on the same bill as Sakio Bika, one of the world champions in his division.
It has been a swift resurgence for the Liverpudlian, who endured bitter disappointment when he failed to secure a place in the London Olympics Games.
A contentious defeat in a European qualification tournament cost Smith his chance to box in the capital, but trainer Joe Gallagher believes the setback spurred on his fighter, who could earn a return trip to America if he impresses this weekend.
He told the Ringside Toe 2 Toe podcast: “It’s near enough two years to the day when he lost in the Olympic qualifier. Who would have thought then that two years later he would be on a big card over here in LA, on a Golden Boy Promotions show and having everybody talking about him?
“There are network chiefs over here that really talk about him and it’s a huge experience for him to box over here.
“A WBC world super-middleweight title fight is on the same bill, with Bika and (Anthony) Dirrell. He can have a look at the top fighters in the division that hold the title. It’s also a scouting trip as well to see how far we are away from that.”
Smith would make a blistering start to life in the paid ranks, with six straight wins coming inside the first round.
Tobias Webb, a fellow prospect, was ruthlessly stopped in two rounds this May and Smith will be having his fourth fight in as many months.
“The progress that Callum is making, you couldn’t write it. What he’s done since he turned over at the time,” said Gallagher.
“He was unfortunate to miss out on the Olympics. He had the heartbreak of that, he’s moving onwards. I think he’s boxed in all the main arenas in England and now he’s over here in LA.
“In the next 12-18 months, it would be great to get him over in Las Vegas in some kind of meaningful fight. He’s still a young boy, still got a lot to learn and he’s got the world at his feet.”
Sparring sessions with IBF and WBA champion Carl Froch have aided Smith’s education, but he is at least 12 months away from a world title shot.
Victory in the early hours of Sunday morning will continue his rapid rise and Gallagher hopes he can produce another explosive win.
“He’s ready to go over to America, do a really good job on this opponent and show the US fans what he’s all about and that people will start believing the hype, said Gallagher.”
“If he gets the stoppage great, but as long as he gets the win and keeps on moving towards that world title shot, that he’ll hopefully get in the next 12 to 18 months.”
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