by Cliff Rold
In the preview piece for Friday’s World Boxing Super Series final, it was noted that promise is only a possibility until it’s fulfilled in the ring.
Callum Smith fulfilled his promise in Jeddah with an excellent performance and decisive knockout win over George Groves.
Using his long jab, hammering right hands, and a nasty left hook, Smith won the WBA belt, Ring Magazine’s recognition as the champion at super middleweight, and walked away the tournament winner in a field where his place as the second seed looked more speculative than earned. The knockout at least saved him from having to hear what looked like some oddly scored cards through the first six rounds.
George Groves had some moments, coming on more in rounds four through six, but ultimately he couldn’t close the gap or take the incoming from his towering challenger. Does the win make Smith the best fighter in the division?
That really still remains to be seen. Groves is the first big win of his career and there are some solid opponents with the other belts who could give him some tests. Smith has arrived. What direction does he go now that he’s there?
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Smith: Let’s start by hoping the WBA doesn’t call for a showdown with their current sub-titlist. Rocky Fielding is an honest, solid prizefighter but he’s already faced Smith and didn’t last a round. Unification would be fun but it might not be immediately feasible. Smith is locked in with promoter Eddie Hearn and DAZN. IBF titlist Jose Uzcategui and WBO titlist Gilberto Ramirez are appearing on ESPN. WBC titlist David Benavidez has been fighting on Showtime. That’s a lot of red tape that some big money fights clashes in the UK might not provide. Smith could face Chris Eubank Jr., a winner on the undercard, or former titlist James DeGale back home. They’d put butts in the seats for fights that would be easy to look forward to. If one was betting on the future, those two names might be the safest possibilities. All of this assumes Smith stays at super middleweight for a long time and given his size and frame that might not be the case. He’s already 28 and light heavyweight could be an easier weight to make sooner than later. Regardless, Smith has more than a few options and we may not have seen his best yet.
The Future for Groves: Groves said after the fight that he will continue on and, at 30, there was no reason to think he wouldn’t. Groves suffers his third stoppage loss and the worst loss of his career to date. Smith largely controlled him on Friday. The challenger not only fought a skilled fight but he fought it with a height and reach advantage that Groves simply didn’t have the tools to overcome. He still got some nice right hands in and seemed to catch Smith’s attention with a hard body shot for a moment. It was all fleeting. It doesn’t negate that he’d been on a roll and is only one fight removed from a clear win over Eubanks. Groves should be assumed to still be a player at 168 lbs. but Smith is someone he probably shouldn’t bother with again.
Rold Picks 2018: 32-13
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]