By Elliot Foster
Tony Bellew has backed Callum Smith to win the World Boxing Super Series.
The former cruiserweight world champion, who is preparing for his May 5 rematch with David Haye at the O2 Arena in London, exclusively live on Sky Sports Box Office, believes the 27-year-old has all the tools to lift the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Smith faces undefeated Dutchman Nieky Holzken in the second super-middleweight semi-final at the Arena Nürnberger Versicherung, with a win meaning that he books his place in the showpiece final against WBA Super and IBO world champion George Groves.
‘Mundo’, a former British and European champion at the weight, had been set to come up against Jürgen Brähmer in a defence of the WBC Diamond crown, but that clash was scrapped on Tuesday morning when it was revealed that the former two-time light-heavyweight king had the flu and was forced to withdraw from the contest.
But Bellew fully expects Smith to set up an all-British showdown with Groves –– the WBA champion who beat Chris Eubank Jr. at Manchester Arena on February 17 to secure a spot in the final on June 2 at the O2 Arena in London –– after dealing with former champion kickboxer Holzken, 34, in good fashion.
"George Groves was brilliant against Eubank Jr but he knows the final against Callum Smith poses a far bigger threat than Chris Eubank Jr,” Bellew told talkSPORT recently.
"George isn't stupid. He is a very articulate, astute fighter and he knows that Callum Smith brings a whole set of different problems than Chris Eubank Jr brings.
“Callum has a vast amount of amateur experience, travelling the world with the GB setup, so that will stand him in good stead [regarding the replacement]. This is nothing he hasn’t experienced before on an amateur level.”
Bellew trained in the same Rotunda ABC gym as Smith, who is the youngest of four fighting brothers from the city of Liverpool.
He added: “On a professional level, Callum knows what can happen. He is an amazing fighter and has all the attributes to be a world champion. He should already be a world champion, in my opinion.
“George Groves is going to be probably facing the bigger man for the first time in his career at super-middleweight and a man who is pretty equal in power, pretty equal in terms of his boxing ability.
"For my money, Callum Smith is going to be the World Boxing Super Series winner. He is a brilliant fighter and I predict massive things in the future for him."