The battle for the inaugural 168lb Muhammad Ali Trophy begins on September 16th with the first of the World Boxing Super Series’ hugely anticipated super middleweight match ups. British betting favourite and number two seed Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) will meet undefeated Swedish star Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs) in a quarter-final bout at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Smith, who is undefeated in his twenty-two professional contests, selected Skoglund as his quarter-final opponent during the live Draft Gala on July 8th at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, and as one of the four seeded super middleweights he will enjoy home advantage for his first tournament test.
‘’A ring is a ring no matter where it is, but of course, I’m happy to be fighting in Liverpool,’’ said Smith. ‘’This is my home and this is where all my best performances as a professional have been. I like fighting in Liverpool, and with the crowd behind me, I will have an added advantage on September 16th.
‘’There are no easy fights in this tournament. It’s the best fighting the best, but I believe I made the right decision in Monte Carlo. That’s not to say Skoglund is not a good fighter. I think he is a very good fighter. His record speaks for itself, but I think stylistically, he was the right choice for me.
‘’It will be a tough test. On paper, Skoglund is probably the best fighter I’ve ever faced, and I will need to be at my best to beat him. But every time I’ve been up against it in my career and every time there’s been that fear factor, it’s brought out the best in me and I’m hoping for the same on September 16th.’’
Skoglund, who is unbeaten in his twenty-four paid fights and ranked with all major governing bodies at 175lbs before moving down in weight, is relishing the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with one of the division’s top talents, and believes the winner of this fight can go on to lift the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy.
‘’This is a huge opportunity for me to prove myself at the highest level,’’ said Skoglund. ‘’Callum Smith is a top-level fighter and one of the tournament favourites. This is what the World Boxing Super Series is all about - the best fighting the best! That’s why I entered and that’s why I’m really looking forward to this fight.
‘’For me, it’s no problem fighting in Liverpool. Of course, I am always thankful for the opportunity to fight in front of my fans in Sweden, but I’m happy not having that pressure on my shoulders for this fight and I will enjoy being the underdog for once.’’
The WBC Diamond Championship will also be on the line for the winner of this quarter-final bout giving both men an added incentive. ‘’I’m in this sport to win as many titles as possible, and it will be great to add the WBC Diamond belt to my collection,’’ said Smith. ‘’It’s going to be an honour to fight for the WBC Diamond title,’’ said Skoglund. ''It gives me even more motivation to win!’’
Roberto Dalmiglio, Comosa´s Head of the Management Board, has expressed his delight at bringing the first World Boxing Super Series’ super middleweight quarter-final to Liverpool. ‘’We’re delighted to be bringing the World Boxing Super Series to Liverpool,’’ said Dalmiglio. ‘’We intend to set a new standard for boxing events and believe the Echo Arena will provide the perfect setting for a truly remarkable night of sporting action on September 16th.’’
Kalle Sauerland, Comosa´s Chief Boxing Officer, is excited to see the tournament get underway, and believes this quarter-final fight will showcase the quality of the super middleweight tournament. ‘’This fight, along with our other quarter-final match-ups, really reflects the strength and depth of our super middleweight line up,’’ said Sauerland. ‘’Callum Smith and Erik Skoglund are two young, hungry, undefeated fighters with a combined record of 48-0. This is going to be an explosive encounter!’’
In the World Boxing Super Series, 16 elite fighters – eight super-middleweights and eight cruiserweights – will battle it out in a bracket-style elimination tournament. In both divisions, there will be four quarter-finals (September / October 2017), two semi-finals (early 2018) and one final (May 2018), making for a total of 14 high-class fights.
Ticket details for the quarter-final clash between Smith and Skoglund on September 16th at the Echo Arena in Liverpool will be announced next week.