by Shaun Brown
Callum Smith was a happy man when Boxing Scene caught up with him to get his reaction to the news that George Groves has been medically cleared to fight him in the World Boxing Super Series Super Middleweight final.
Groves, the WBA champion at 168lbs, had suffered a shoulder injury in his semi-final win over Chris Eubank Jr on February 17 and had to have surgery later that month, which looked to have potentially jeopardised his place in the final.
Smith, who beat Nieky Holzken in his own semi-final, after Jurgen Braehmer withdrew due to illness, can now look ahead to finally getting it on with Groves later in the year.
"It's the fight that I wanted so it's good news. The news I've been waiting to hear to be fair," Smith (24-0, 17 KOs) told 'Scene earlier today (May 29).
Smith, the WBC Diamond Super Middleweight title holder, admitted it had been a frustrating time for him waiting to find out if he would face Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) or, as had been rumoured, Eubank Jr in the final.
"I've wanted the Groves fight for a long time and finally got myself into a position for it. To hear that he's gonna be out and they weren't going to wait for him, and possibly having to fight Eubank Jr, and then hearing maybe it would be Groves - maybe it won't. I've had tons of people asking me when and how, and I haven't been able to give any answers. I've been kept in the dark as much as them so I'm pleased to finally hear that it is George Groves. It's the fight I've always wanted. It's the best outcome for me and I've just got to now knuckle down and do my part and make sure I get the win."
With a date and venue to be confirmed at time of writing (Smith informed 'Scene that it could be September) the waiting is almost over for the 28-year-old Liverpudlian. Soon it will be time to get into camp for what is the biggest fight of his career.
Although unbeaten in his 24 starts to date, and having the hype machine placed firmly around him earlier on in his career, Smith said that his last two performances against Holzken and Erik Skoglund (in the WBSS quarter-final) have been below par, and the 6'3" super middleweight unit knows that those showings would not be good enough to beat Groves.
"My last couple of fights I hold my hands up, I haven't performed as good as what I believe I am. I'm the first to say that.
"I do believe there was a lot of motivation and fear factor issues in those fights. I was massive favourite for them and a below-par performance was always enough to get the win. Would a below par performance beat George Groves? No, it won't. So I don't believe you'll get one from me. I believe it'll bring out the best in me. I knew against [Hadillah] Mohoumadi, [Rocky] Fielding, [Christopher] Rebrasse early on in my career there was a chance I'd lose, and that fear factor always brought out the best in me and right now there's no bigger fight or bigger test in my weight division than George Groves. He's number one in the division and beating him puts me there and that's all I've ever wanted since turning pro. If I can't get in and perform in a fight like this then I'm probably in the wrong sport.
"I think we will see a big performance from me, and I'm confident I'm good enough to get the win and become a world champion. I had a feeling our paths would cross at some point and thankfully they will. I've seen a lot of him and I'll watch him a bit more and (trainer) Joe [Gallagher] will obviously will watch a lot more. I know he's very good, he's got very big strengths but I also know he's big weaknesses in my opinion and it's up to me to take advantage of them; nullify his strengths and take advantage stylistically because I feel I've got the style to beat him."
Shaun Brown covers British boxing for Boxing Scene. Contact him on Twitter @sbrown2pt0