By Terence Dooley
Wragge & Co. LLP, a UK-based law firm, issued a statement from British Super featherweight champion Stephen Smith earlier today in which he claims that his contract with W. Promotions Limited has been terminated.
‘I’ve been with W Promotions since I turned pro and during that time have held the British Featherweight and Super-Featherweight titles,’ stated Smith, who won Commonwealth gold as an amateur in 2006.
‘Now though the time has come to pursue my career away from W Promotions. As such I’m today announcing the termination of my contract with W Promotions. I would like to thank everyone at W Promotions for the support and guidance they’ve given me. A special thank you to Dean Powell — like so many other boxers out there I appreciate everything he did for my career.’
Warren, though, has issued a statement to the contrary. Here it is in its entirety:
‘This statement is made following the statement released by boxer Stephen Smith yesterday, where he claims to have terminated his agreement with W. Promotions Ltd. W Promotions Ltd has received no notice of termination.
‘Frank Warren has received a letter in which Stephen Smith says that he wishes to terminate his Approved Boxer/Management Agreement. This letter was sent nearly seven weeks following his successful challenge for the British title in August and after it was announced he was to be part of an historic show where all three of the Smith brothers would defend their British Championships on the same night.
‘However, the letter does not disclose grounds to validly terminate the agreement and so Stephen Smith remains under contract to Frank Warren. Any party seeking his services must contact Mr. Warren in the first instance to comply with the rules of the BBBofC.
‘Mr. Warren will defend his rights as both the Manager and Promoter of Stephen Smith and a complaint has already been lodged at the British Boxing Board of Control and a letter sent to his solicitors. Other parties, who we are aware have induced Mr. Smith to breach his contract and in doing so have tortuously interfered with Mr Warren’s rights, will also be the subject of action through the BBBofC and the Courts.
'On a more personal note, It is extremely disappointing that Stephen Smith has chosen to implicate the late Dean Powell in his grounds for termination, yet in his press statement yesterday he specifically thanked Mr. Powell for the work done on his behalf throughout his career. It is our opinion that the timing of this and the manner in which it has been conducted is in poor taste.’
Smith is pencilled in for a December 7 title defence against former English and British titlist Gary Sykes on a Frank Warren-promoted bill at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, in what would be the first defence of the belt he won with a stunning fifth-round KO win over tough Welshman Gary Buckland at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena in August.
Smith landed a picture perfect right uppercut on Buckland to win the title, a shot that retired trainer Billy Graham described as: “One of the most perfect punches you could produce and it came after ‘Swifty’ had done a good job of fighting fire with fire against Buckland then drawing him in.”
Smith, 17-1 (10), has impressed since losing his undefeated record, plus his British and Commonwealth featherweight titles, to Lee Selby in September 2011, an eighth-round KO loss, and has often talked about his desire to gain revenge over his rival.
However, the 28-year-old opted for a move to 130lbs, where he picked up the vacant WBO Inter-Continental title by beating Ben Jones in a single stanza in March 2012. The 2006 and 2007 ABA featherweight champion’s form has been good at the higher poundage; plus Dean Powell matched him well in the aftermath of the defeat and prior to the expert matchmaker’s tragic death last month.
Smith’s form is good news for his many fans and with brothers Paul and Liam also British title-holders, at Super middle and light-middleweight respectively, the fighting Smith family are in fine fettle.
Indeed, the three of them were due to defend their belts on the December date, which would have made for an amazing piece of British boxing history. Three siblings have never held British titles at the same time before, let alone defended their Lonsdale belts on the same bill.
“It’s a remarkable achievement for three brothers to be British champions at the same time and I can’t see it being repeated again in the near future,” said Warren when announcing the BoxNation-televised “History Boys” show last week, and the statement above suggests that the promoter intends to make sure that the historic night takes place.
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