By Shaun Brown
Callum Smith v Rocky Fielding: an-all Liverpool affair, a battle of two unbeaten British super middleweights fighting for the Lonsdale belt, a step closer to a world title shot and exactly the kind of fight that boxing on this side of the pond needs right now.
It is a fight that has sold-out Liverpool’s Echo Arena and has some of the sport’s best minds split down the middle. Smith’s world-class amateur background, a pro record with a better standard of opponent against Fielding; a fighter who has made huge strides in his development under Oliver Harrison and appears to be getting better with every fight. Not forgetting that both men carry sizeable punch power.
A 50-50, a 60-40 at least in some quarters but as you’ll see from a Boxing Scene UK industry poll our overall result is much greater.
Arnie Farnell (Trainer) – I will go for Smith just because of his superior boxing skills from his amateur days. But I believe Rocky has come on leaps and bounds and has the better trainer (boxing wise) in Oliver [Harrison] so he could have the right mindset and attitude on fight night. We know Callum will be very fit because he has a great fitness coach in Joe Gallagher so it could be a distance fight. Rocky could cause an upset with his unorthodox power shots. If I was a betting man I would put it on Callum on points. Good luck to both.
Frank Buglioni (super middleweight) – I think Callum Smith stops him early/mid-fight. He’s got the accuracy and composure and better schooling in my opinion.
Conrad Cummings (middleweight) - I suspect it will be a great fight, most likely go the 12 rounds. Rocky is a good fighter and will push Callum hard, however I think Callum will be a little bit more clever and outfox him. Also Callum is a very good ‘inside’ fighter and punches very hard to the body. This could be the telling factor. I wish both fighters all the very best and may the best man. I’ll be watching…
Barry McGuigan (Promoter/Manager) – It’s good to see two young fighters willing to take each other on at this stage in their careers. Callum Smith looks the real McCoy but Rocky Fielding is a big puncher and the one remaining box to be ticked with Callum is, can he hold up when he’s banged on the chin? If he can cope with Fielding’s power then he wins. My guess is he’ll either out point Fielding or if he feels audacious and wants to go for it he could stop Rocky in the late rounds.
Elliot Foster (Boxing Scene contributor) – It’s a tough one to call, this, and it’s split opinion in families and in the city of Liverpool. Firstly, I’d like to wish both lads good luck and say may the best man win. It’s a difficult one, for me, because I speak to both lads on a regular basis and get on well with both, but allegiances and so-called friendships aside, I have to go for Callum Smith to win. I think he’ll prove too big and too strong for Fielding, who himself has improved no-end in recent fights. I see a Smith win by late stoppage.
Jake Donovan (Managing Editor, Boxing Scene) – Can’t say I feel good about the pick, other than believing it will go the distance. I think Rocky is a live ‘dog here and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get the win. But in a close fight, I shade it slightly to Callum who is more Liam (vs. Thompson) than Paul (vs. Ward) in delivering the biggest win of his career to date. Smith SD12 Fielding.
Danny Winterbottom (Boxing Monthly contributor) - Eddie Hearn and Joe Gallagher have been telling everyone who will listen that Callum Smith is a world champion in waiting but on Saturday night he faces the toughest test of that boast in the form of cross city rival Rocky Fielding. It is an intriguing local derby. Smith looked devastating when dismantling his early opposition, [Anthony] Joshua style, but against Christopher Rebrasse in June I thought he was caught too easily too often despite dominating the contest on the scorecards. He cannot afford to let Fielding hit him at will because the 'Rocky from Stocky' can whack. Both are unbeaten but Fielding has arguably faced the better opposition whilst Callum has received the praise and backing from Sky Sports. My only concern surrounds whispers that Fielding was holding up signing for the contest because he wanted a guarantee of future big fights from Hearn which could indicate a lack of confidence in victory on his part, perhaps. The last time I picked against Fielding he iced Luke Blackledge in a round but I feel Smith will box sensibly behind a strong jab in the early going, negating Fielding's power, to rack up enough points for a decision victory, but I wouldn't be surprised if Fielding ruffles his feathers a little along the way. It promises to be a cracker!
Jon Pegg (Trainer) – Going to be a tight fight with Smith working the body and upstairs with Fielding maybe looking for the chin a bit more. As the fight progresses I think that body work will pay dividends as Smith will take over between rounds nine and 11 to force a stoppage from body shots but even if it’s a head shot I think the body shots will have played a very important part.
Steve Wellings (Author/Boxing writer) - While the year so far has been fairly weak in terms of good, evenly-matched scraps this is a great fight and I’m sure it will be entertaining. I’ve heard Fielding’s conditioning and dedication questioned in some quarters but he looks in good shape for this one. I believe his power is real too. Smith’s own power has slightly faded, naturally, as he has moved up in levels but both can bang. That being said, even though I view Fielding as an extremely live opponent carrying the potential to score a knockout, I reckon Smith will win on points by a margin of perhaps four or five rounds. I also imagine that the promoter will be happiest if Smith prevails, when assessing future prospects and marketability.
Chris Glover (Boxing Scene contributor) - I think that the fighter that comes out on top on Saturday night will be the one who can stick to the game plan better. The fight has all the ingredients to turn into an all-out war. For me, if it does, it will favour Fielding. I am going with a Rocky Fielding KO between rounds 8-12.
George Ogier (Boxing Scene contributor) - This hotly anticipated Merseyside dust-up appears to be a real pick ‘em affair but I’m leaning towards Smith by UD. Callum has fought a better level of opponent than Fielding and at this stage of his career looks to be a more technically adept fighter than his older adversary. Callum and Rocky have four opponents in common with similar results against each shared foe. The only exception is Olegs Fedotovs who took Fielding the distance but was blown out inside a round against Smith. Both men can bang a bit but neither possesses genuine one punch KO power and as such I can envisage a see-saw 12 rounder with Callum Smith prevailing by three or four rounds.
Ben Jacobs (Boxing Scene contributor) - This fight is not only important for the city of Liverpool but has generated big interest across the UK and, for the winner, a chance to make a name for himself at world level is up for grabs. ‘Rocky’ Fielding has impressed of late, possibly more than observers of the sport would have predicated a year or two ago. While I believe he can trouble a number of fighters at the weight class with his power, I feel that Callum Smith is the better boxer of the two and carries a hefty whack himself. I see a clear points’ victory for Smith in an emotional battle, likely by the end the two men will demonstrate big respect for each other.
Peter Fury (Trainer) – I do think it’s a hard one to pick. It’s a 50-50 fight because both fighters want it and want it badly and are at similar stages in their career. I think for Fielding to be in with a shout he needs to be super fit and not blow up after the early rounds. As we know Callum has got the stamina to go right through the 12 rounds. I think if Fielding can keep the pace going he’s got as good a chance as anybody. I can’t really pick a winner. From what I’ve seen of both fighters they seem as good as each other. I wish both fighters the very best and may the best man come out on top.
Shaun Brown (UK Editor, Boxing Scene) - Up until this week I have picked Rocky Fielding to prevail in this fascinating battle of two unbeaten British super middleweights. As the days have drawn closer I've changed my prediction to Smith to use his head rather than his heart to perhaps emphasis how good he really is and box his way to a unanimous decision. Rocky has to pace himself and does carry good power but Smith is no stranger to taking big whacks having sparred with even heavier hitters than Fielding. Ability wise I just feel Smith is further ahead than Fielding and that will show on the night with everything coming off his jab. The atmosphere will be electric in Liverpool’s Echo Arena and this is the kind of match-up that British boxing needs so long may it continue.
Verdict: Smith 12, Fielding 1, undecided 1