By Shaun Brown
Mitchell Smith says he may venture south to featherweight or north to lightweight if his trademark punching power can travel with him.
The 8-0 (4 KOs) super featherweight prospect boxes for his second professional title when he faces the 9-0 Peter Cope for the vacant English title tonight at London’s York Hall live on Boxnation.
21-year-old Smith is widely tipped as a future world champion and is eager to take himself to new challenges, whether that’s at 130, 126 or 135lbs.
“At the moment I’m comfortable at super featherweight but I’m even talking about moving down to featherweight after this fight. Just seeing what’s available; I know Josh Warrington has the British and Commonwealth title [at featherweight] but you never know I could pick up a few titles down there. I believe I can bring the power down to featherweight and up to lightweight. Between the three weights I think the future is bright,” Smith told Boxing Scene last week.
“I’ll go wherever I can progress or wherever the fights are. If there’s not a fight I can get at super featherweight then I’m saying featherweight is definitely an option that I can do. It’s wherever the exciting fights are, wherever the money is and wherever the titles are. If I can do feather, lightweight as well as super feather then it’s quite exciting if I can carry the power up and down. It could be dangerous for the rest.”
But first up is the tricky Peter Cope. The unbeaten 23-year-old should present Smith with his toughest test to date in the scheduled ten-round contest. Last time out, pundits and fans alike thought Mark Evans would represent a tough test for the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’. Smith gave ‘Scene his assessment on his TKO 2 win back in February.
“I knew that Mark Evans was going to be game, he was going to come and be quite tough and was going to try. For me the fighters that will come and try and win will get knocked out. They’ll commit, leave themselves wide open and I will counter that and hurt them. Everything fell into place when I boxed Mark Evans. My distance was perfect and I caught with him a few heavy shots in the first round which I thought might have unsettled him. I don’t think he liked the fact I was hitting him at will. When you’re trying to hit an opponent and you’re getting hit with sickening right hands one after the other it dents someone’s confidence. Then I hit him round the body and hurt him. It was only going to end one way. I knew he’d be game, I knew I’d stop him but I thought it’d last a little bit longer than that.”
As good with his words as he is with fists, boxing is now seeing a much more focused and mature Smith. A former senior ABA champion as an amateur, he admitted to ‘Scene that he took things for granted when he first turned professional and needed, in his words, a ‘kick up the arse’.
“I just wasn’t living the life properly,” he said.
“I was fighting journeyman. On my debut (against James Ancliff) I performed well and I thought I could cruise the rest of them. I thought they’re quite easy journeyman, they’ll go in there and they’ll lose. I just thought I can keep doing this until I step up in class a little bit and I couldn’t. I found out a little bit messing around at the weight not doing it all properly. Then it was time to live the life.”
And live the life he has. Smith has now turned himself into a professional athlete thanks to his own dedication and the influence of trainer and ex-pro, Jason Rowland. Smith is delighted to have a man who has been there and done with the 43 year old having won the British and WBU light-welterweight titles from 1998 to 2000.
“For me, it’s nice to have a coach you have a bond with but for me it’s nicer to have a bond with a coach that’s been there and done it,” said Smith.
“He’s done what other fighters would dream of and I’ve got a lot of respect for the man. As a fighter it’s nice to be in the gym with someone that’s been there and done it.”
Smith, like all pros is taking things one fight at a time. Level headed with his feet on the floor, it feels like the usual verbal clichés but the West Ham Utd fan is already convincing many that the world is at his feet and it’s only a matter of time before the heavy hitting Brit is amongst the biggest fights that, whatever weight class he decides on, has to offer at domestic level. He told ‘Scene that he plans to win the English title in style tonight, enjoy it and return to action before the end of the year. But he does believe that there’s no one at the top echelons at super-featherweight, at least, that he doesn’t feel he’s ready for.
“I don’t think there’s nothing too special out there that I can’t take out at the moment and I don’t mean that disrespectfully. For me there’s nothing that stands out that I wouldn’t fight now. In Britain right now there’s nothing I wouldn’t to be able to stand in the ring with and not be able to beat. The division is quite exciting there’s a few fights out there that I would like to have after this fight.”
Shaun Brown is the UK Editor at Boxing Scene and a contributor to Boxing Monthly. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org with any news, views or stories you may have.