By Elliot Foster
CALLUM SMITH is relishing the prospect of having something to focus on after returning to the ring.
The Scouse super-middleweight claimed the vacant WBC Diamond title against Erik Skoglund at the ECHO Arena on Saturday, exclusively live on ITV4, as part of the World Boxing Super Series.
Smith snapped a 10-month ring hiatus against the Swede as he progressed to the semi-finals of the Ali Trophy tournament.
And now the 27-year-old is delighted that he will be out regularly after what was a hard-fought 116-112, 117-110, 117-111 win during which he had a few sticky patches.
“I knew I was a big favourite going into the fight,” said Smith, who suffered a bruised eye and a bloody nose, in the aftermath. “But it was a mismatch with the bookies.
“It didn’t turn out that way because we knew Erik was a good, unbeaten fighter. The more I was watching him, the better he was looking and I knew it would be a tough fight.
“If I’m honest, it had to be, because he was big, he had a good jab and I knew that I would have needed a good performance to beat him.”
‘Mundo’ moved on to 23-0 with 17 early with the win over the Swede.
And he felt that it was a fight that he needed, both in type and stature, to push him to the next stage of his development.
“I’ve said before that I’ve boxed well in my career so far and I’ve had a lot of early knockouts, but people haven’t seen my full ability,” Smith –– who knocked down Skoglund in the penultimate round –– continued.
“I can move my feet, I can box and think too. Erik made me work every round and it was a physical fight.
“But it’s a good win in a fight that I needed after being out of the ring for so long. I’m glad to have got the 12 rounds because I don’t feel I’d have benefited from an early knockout and the fight going the distance was the best thing that could have come out of it.”
Smith will be an interested observer at ringside in Schwerin, Germany on October 27 when Robert Brant and Juergen Braehmer meet in the last quarter-final of the super-middleweight tournament on a scouting mission for his next opponent.
Their semi-final is likely to take place in late February or early March, but Smith is just happy to know where his future lies after a misty past few months.
“The main reason I entered this tournament was so that I knew when my next fight would be.
“There were plenty of others but the main one was to give me fights again because I’d been out for too long.
“I had nine fights in my first nine months when I first turned professional and I was enjoying boxing. But to go from that to just sitting around and doing nothing, it was frustrating and it’s good to be back.
“I knew before this fight when my next one and if I win that I’ll know when my next one is.
“I’m finally getting some stability back in my career and I feel that is just what I need.”