Dalton Smith knows his boxing history, so even in an age when success can often be regarded as world title or nothing, being British champion was the first big target for him when he turned professional. Now the Sheffield fighter is two wins away from winning a Lonsdale Belt outright, so other ambitions can wait for now.

Smith makes the second defense of the British super-lightweight title when he faces Billy Allington in Nottingham on the Leigh Wood-Mauricio Lara bill on February 18.

A boxer has to make three successful defenses of the British title to win the Lonsdale Belt outright. Win this and make one more successful defense of the title and the finest belt in world boxing will be Smith’s for keeps.

“I’m more storied in the sport,” Smith said. “I’ve been in this sport since I was a little kid and I’ve seen the greats come through, the British title is a prestigious title and for me it has been a belt which means a lot.

“To keep it in the family, to have it for keeps it is something I’ve always wanted to do. My dreams are to go much higher than this but now that I’m here I don’t want it to pass especially considering how close I am to it and having it for keeps. There’s no reason I can’t do it.”

There did seem a point when the 25-year-old Yorkshireman might not fight for the British title at all. Sam Maxwell gave up the title when Smith became mandatory contender and then a fight with Akeem Ennis-Brown fell through when Ennis-Brown picked up an injury.

Eventually he was matched with Sam O’Maison for the title last August and made a successful first defence against Kaisee Benjamin in November.

“There is history behind the belt, it’s the oldest belt in boxing and it is something I want to keep in the family,” Smith said. ““I’m part of that history now and that excites me. To have it for keeps is a dream I’ve always wanted. 

“My weight is stacked with talent, even domestically in the division. Maybe some different weights the competition isn’t so good so I can see why some move on [without defending the British title]. We can make some big fights for the British title. I’ve got two more defences and then my goal is to move on.”

Smith, the son of trainer Grant Smith, has recently agreed a new deal with Eddie Hearn at Matchroom, despite the fact that his fight with Benjamin was on a Boxxer show on Sky Sports. He admits that looked around at different promoters before agreeing with Matchroom.

“When my contract came to an end with Matchroom, we shopped about a little bit as anyone would,” he said. “Sky treated me well but when we sat down with the team we thought Matchroom was the right decision and I believe they can take me to the next highs in my career.

“Being with Eddie from the start I know how he works and he’s always delivered for me and given me the opportunities. 

“I believe I’m one of the next stars to come through. The only thing I can do is concentrate on the next fight but you have to plan. I’ve put it out there - I want the British title for keeps. Towards the end of the year I want to be pushing onto the world scene.”

Super-lightweight is a rapidly changing division at world level. Not so long ago, Josh Taylor was undisputed champion, now Taylor holds only the WBO title.

“The world titles being split up means more doors will open,” Smith said. “That’s boxing. People move on, people move up in weight, anything can change with the click of your fingers. I don’t look at it too deep. I like to see who is flying about in the rankings. When my time comes I’ll be ready for whoever.”

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.