Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

UK Insider: Liam Smith; Mathews-Woodhouse; Crolla

By Nick Halling

British boxing history could be made this weekend when Liam Smith aims to become domestic light middleweight champion with a victory over Erick Ochieng. If Smith prevails, he will join elder brothers Paul and Stephen as British champions. It is believed that never in the long history of the Lonsdale belt have there been three brothers reigning simultaneously.

Liam is the third of four boxing brothers from the city of Liverpool.  Paul recently regained the domestic super middleweight title, former featherweight boss Stephen is now a two-weight champion after knocking out Gary Buckland to win the super featherweight strap, while younger brother Callum has been garnering attention for a string of five first round knockouts.

With so much success in the family, Liam has largely flown under the radar, despite picking up the Commonwealth crown last December. But the third brother is looking forward to being in the spotlight, and insists the high level of expectation has not affected his preparations. “It’s the biggest fight of my career, no question. I know how big a deal it is, but there’s no extra pressure,” he said. “I put pressure on myself every time I step into the ring. I’ve seen what it meant to my brothers to win the British title, and how badly they felt when they lost it, so its very exciting.”

As usual, Smith’s camp has been held at trainer Joe Gallagher’s gym in Bolton, although this time with a new sparring partner. “We brought over Cecil McCalla from America (a 16-0 prospect from Maryland) and we must have sparred close to 100 rounds together. He’s been perfect because he does a lot of things Erick does, with a very similar style. Plus, he’s fighting back home this weekend, so it’s worked out well for both of us.”

Gallagher took Smith to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym last year, and says the Liverpool man more than held his own. “Everyone talks about the Smith brothers because they’re all good,” he said, “but Liam’s the best of them in my eyes. His temperament and attitude are perfect. The big thing with him is his timing. You can’t teach that. I’d put him in with (IBF light middle champ Carlos) Molina right now. Liam is one of the best prospects in the country.”

Whatever happens, don’t expect any sibling rivalry to sour relationships. The four brothers are very tight-knit  although, typically, they all keep each other grounded.

“We’re all very close,” he said, “but its great to have them around. They’ve been in this situation, so they know what to expect.” The History Boy sounds like he’s taking the weight of expectation in his stride.

***************************************************

One man with mixed emotions this weekend is promoter/trainer Dave Coldwell. The Sheffield-based former boxer looks after the careers of both Derry Mathews and Curtis Woodhouse, who meet in Liverpool on Saturday with Mathews’ Commonwealth lightweight title on the line.

“Its a hard one for me, and I’m not sure how I’ll handle it on the night,” said Coldwell, who promotes both boxers and additionally manages Woodhouse. “I’ve had Curtis since his second fight, and first worked with Derry years ago. I have a view on which guy I think will win, but I will be keeping that to myself. It’s going to be a case of sit back and stay neutral. But I’ve done my job as a promoter. I’ve secured the best purse possible for Derry, and I’ve delivered the chance to win a major title for Curtis.”

Woodhouse and Mathews have been pounding away at each other on Twitter in an engaging battle of verbal jabs for weeks, but these are two of the good guys of the British boxing scene. Both are raising money for charity through the sale of T-shirts. Mathews’ shirts are emblazoned with his nickname, Dirty Derry, while Woodhouse’s are called Troll Hunter, a reference to his locating and confronting an individual who abused him on the social media site.

 The shirts, available at the venue on fight night, also sell direct through Coldwell, at £10 per time, with all proceeds going to charity: the Alder Hey children’s cancer hospital in the case of Mathews, and Barnardo’s for Woodhouse. Mathews took his Commonwealth belt to the hospital last month and was moved by the experience.

“I thought I was a fighter, but I’ve got nothing on these kids,” he tweeted afterwards.

The contest itself has the potential to be one of the domestic dustups of the year. Mathews is never in a boring affair, while Woodhouse, the former Sheffield United footballer, continues to improve and is confident of taking his career to the next level. For their promoter, Saturday night will be sheer agony.

“I’m an emotional guy, and it’s going to be very hard for me to sit there quietly,” said Coldwell. “It is going to be heartbreak for one, and elation for the other, but that’s the nature of the business we’re in.”

***************************************************

The lure of a potential world title shot, combined with the recommendation of a good friend led British lightweight Anthony Crolla becoming the latest addition to Matchroom’s growing stable earlier this week.

“I’m good friends with Scott Quigg, and he spoke very highly of them,” said Crolla. “And when I sat down with promoter Eddie Hearn, I really liked the sound of what he had planned for me. My job is to keep winning, and if I do my part, I’m confident that he will be able to deliver a world title opportunity for me.”

Prior to the recent draw with Ray Beltran, there had been talk of a possible all-British affair with Crolla challenging Ricky Burns, for the latter’s WBO title. That remains a possibility down the line, but Burns faces a layoff as he recovers from a broken jaw, and when he is healthy, there may first be a rematch with Beltran to be dealt with.

Instead, Crolla has been given a spot on the Froch/Groves undercard in November, and will look to add a couple more contests  before the summer.

“There are plenty of good fights for me out there,” said the former British champion. “My job is to make sure I keep winning.”

Crolla is the latest name to join the Matchroom stable, but rumours persist that two more significant championship-level contenders could soon be added to the roster. Negotiations are said to be in progress, with announcements expected in the near future.

Nick Halling is a commentator for Sky Sports

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Post a Comment - View More User Comments (0)
Top Headlines Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia - UK Experts Give Predictions Rocky Fielding-John Ryder For British Belt On Murray-Rosado Horn's Promoter Still Has Doubts Pacquiao-Khan Will Happen Dina Thorslund vs. Gabriella Mezei For Euro Title on March 18 David Allen Confirmed For David Haye vs. Tony Bellew Card Brook Vows To Make Statement To 'Yanks' By Downing Spence Misael Lopez Decisions Ricky Rodriguez in Battle of Unbeatens Roy Jones Jr. To Meet With UFC, Likely To Discuss Anderson Silva Avtandil Khurtsidze vs. Tommy Langford - WBO Interim on April 22 Paulie Malignaggi: Is This My Jimmy Connors Moment? Banking Upsets: Khan, Klitschko, Chavez to Yield financial Windfall Canelo: Chavez Says Things Behind My Back - Not To My Face! Deontay Wilder's Coach: We Want Unification as Soon as Possible Katsidis Slams Jeff Horn: Who Are You To Call Out Pacquiao? Video: Tony Bellew Explains What Made Haye Fight Personal Wilder Explains in Detail, His Version of Scuffle With Breazeale Juan Hernandez is Pumped as WBC World Title Fight Nears Video: McGuigan, Coldwell Talk David Haye vs. Tony Bellew Video: Martin Murray Ready For a War With Gabe Rosado Canelo: Nacho Can't Change Chavez, I've Fought Smarter Fighters Luis Arias Back on April 1 at the Aldrich Arena in Maplewood Adonis Stevenson vs. Eleider Alvarez - Purse Bid Set For March 24 Haye Vows To Bellew: I'm Going To Smash Your F***ing Head In! Manny Pacquiao vs. Amir Khan is NOT Official, Says Bob Arum Photos: David Haye vs. Tony Bellew Final Press Conference Video: David Haye Rips Tony Bellew's "Retard" Fans at Presser Video: Haye, Bellew in Tense Face-Off at Final Press Conference De La Hoya: Amir Khan Has a "Great Chance" To Shock Pacquiao! 30 Day Weights: Jorge Linares 144.8, Anthony Crolla 144 Mario Barrios, Lipinets Ready For Action on Thurman vs. Garcia Photos: Martin Murray vs. Gabe Rosado - Presser To Announce Bout Chavez Jr: This Fight Will Show Canelo To Stay in His Weight Class British Board Tackling Issue of Foreign Fighters Falsifying Records Mikaela Lauren vs. Ewa Piatkowska For WBC Title on April 22 Deontay Wilder's Surgically Repaired Right Hand Feels 'Wonderful' Bellew: Haye Sh*t Himself With Klitschko, His Best Win is Mormeck! Virgil Hunter: Khan-Pacquiao is 50-50; Manny Can Still Fight Luke Campbell: I Want Mendy Rematch, Want To Make Him Suffer David Allen May Return On Haye-Bellew; Yafai Will Box In Germany Shakhnazaryan vs. Rivera, Sargsyan vs. Pavko, 3/17 in Moscow
Advertisement
Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement