New Faces: Callum Smith
Hometown: Liverpool, England
Weight class: Super middleweight
Height / reach: 6-foot-3 (191 cm)
Amateur record: 68-18 estimates
Turned pro: 2012
Pro record: 16-0, 12 knockouts
Trainer(s): Joe Gallagher
Manager: Joe Gallagher
Promoter: Matchroom Boxing
Best night of pro career: Smith feels his best win was his step-up fight last November against former world title challenger Nikola Sjekloca.
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“I think my best win is the Sjekloca one,” Smith told RingTV.com in early June. “A lot of people of people at the time thought he’d give me a lot of problems. I think I won every round on one scorecard, and lost a couple of rounds on another one.”
However, he feels his most impressive victory was last May: “I think my best performance was stopping Tobias Webb in two rounds, he’d only lost the one out of 15. A lot of people thought it was going to be a good competitive fight and like I say I won in two rounds which is a good night for me.”
Worst night of pro career: The 25-year-old Liverpool-born fighter has won all his fights handily, looking back he feels least pleased with his first fight.
“My debut has been my worst performance,” he said. “There was a lot of build up for me turning professional and I think I tried a bit too hard. I won every round out of four. A lot of people said it was a good performance but I knew what I was capable (of).
“I tried too hard, a typical amateur turning pro, I was trying to get the knockout. I’ve realized since that when I haven’t tried for it the knockouts have come, that was the only fight I tried to knock someone out and it didn’t happen. I was over eager, I was young and making my professional debut and tried a bit too hard to impress.”
Next fight: Smith returned to action after six months on the sidelines with a slight tear in the tendon on his right hand with a comfortable win over journeyman Olegs Fedotovs in May. On Saturday he steps up again, this time he’ll face former European champion Christopher Rebrasse.
“He’s the best I’ve boxed on paper by far,” he said. “This is the type of fight I want. These type of fights will help me improve and progress towards a world title which is where I want to be. I’m not going to get there beating no one, I’ve got to beat the likes of these to earn my shot.”
Rebrasse, 29, is a familiar name on British shores having fought George Groves last September. Groves wasn’t able to stop the durable Frenchman (23-3-3, 6 knockouts). If Smith was able to become the first to do so it would clearly be a feather in his cap.
“A stoppage does send out a statement but I’ve learned like I said before from my debut, I won’t go out and look for it,” said the heavy handed Liverpudlian. “It’s a tough fight, a win of any means and I’ll be happy. I’m confident if I do perform how I can that I can win a lot more comfortably than people are expecting. It is a tough fight, I won’t be going out there looking for a stoppage, if it comes it’s a bonus, a 12 round convincing win is what we’re looking for.”
Why he’s a prospect: Smith was able to fit a lot into his amateur career. He won junior national titles and represented Great Britain abroad. His biggest success was when he won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India as a welterweight.
He spent close to three years on the GB squad, but those commitments kept him from winning the ABA championships – he was the only Smith brother [Paul a super middleweight title challenger, Liam an up-and-coming junior middleweight and Stephen a world-rated junior lightweight] not to win one. However, he was able to exact some measure of revenge beating the ABA champion at two GB Championships [where the English, Scottish and Welsh national champions and the GB reps all fight].
Smith, failed to qualify for the Olympics losing a fight many believed he deserved to win.
His best amateur victory was when he beat Serik Sapiyev a year-and-a-half before the 2012 Olympics. The Kazahk-born fighter would win the gold and also the Val Barker trophy for best boxer at the London Games.
Despite not having the limelight some of the Olympians enjoyed, Smith has developed well, sparring with a wide array of active fighters, including Carl Froch, Tony Bellew, Nathan Cleverly, George Groves, Andy Lee, Kell Brook, Hassan N’dam as well as his brothers. He’s been over at the Wild Card in Southern California and sparred a lot of good fighters, including former amateur standout and light heavyweight contender Ismayl Sillahk.
“In my first year I sparred quite a lot of top fighters which I gained confidence from. I was holding my own with world champions at the time and I hadn’t really had a fight [as a pro],” said Smith.
He clearly has a lot going for him, but he says of his best quality inside the ring: “My boxing brain, my boxing ability. I think for a young lad I’m quite experienced, I’ve got three older brothers and I’ve been around boxing a long time. I think I can read a fight well.”
Why he’s a suspect: At this juncture Smith has been punch perfect. He’s won impressively in each fight and is one of the top super middleweight prospects in the world. At this point there is no obvious weakness in his game.
“All around really,” he said when asked what areas he needs to improve to reach his goals. “Gain experience, you can’t buy experience. No matter how good an amateur you are, how skilled you are, you’ve got to gain experience to go all the way.
“I feel that’s what I’m doing. The one in November and now this one, they’re good solid 12 rounders which I’ll learn a lot from. I’m only young, I’ve only been pro 2¾ years. I’m new to the pros, I do need some learning fights before I do challenge for the world title.”
The super middleweight scene possesses a few stars, namely Andre Ward and Carl Froch and experienced world champions, such as Arthur Abraham, some big domestic fights with the likes of newly minted IBF boss James DeGale and George Groves, both of whom he’d like to fight.
“Definitely, that’s the plan,” he said. “Their rivalry will always be there, there will always be a big fight between them. I’m ranked highly [No. 3] by the WBC now and if I keep winning and Groves is good enough to beat Badou Jack I could end up fighting which I plan on doing that it sets up a big fight with DeGale. But I am confident I can get in the mix them.”
However, the division isn’t the strongest, lacking depth around the fringes that Smith requires to bridge this level with world class.
Smith agrees, “Yeah it’s a tough balance because if I get in and struggle people would slate me. If I get in and blow them out in one round they slate me again, saying I boxed no one. It is tough for Matchroom because they’ve got to match me right but one step to far, too soon and it could be over. I leave that job to Matchroom, I think I’m in good hands with them. So far I’ve been matched perfectly.”
Story lines: Smith was nine years old when he first became interested in boxing. He followed his three older brothers to the gym and when he realized he was quite good settled into the sport and things quickly progressed.
When he saw them doing well it inspired him to follow in the family footsteps: “I saw them winning national titles and representing the country and it was something I wanted to do. When you’re so close as a family, it gives me confidence if they can do it I can.”
While some may feel having older brothers in the sport adds pressure it’s not something “Mundo” (his father from a young age referred to him as “Callumundo” and “Mundo” stuck) agrees with, he feels it helped open his eyes to what he could achieve.
“I wouldn’t change it, I think I learn a lot from them and benefit a lot from them, everything I’ve done they’ve been there and done it before and I’ve been there and watched. I was in the changing rooms and in a full training camp with my brother Paul when he fought for a world title, so hopefully one day when I do it, it won’t be a new thing, I’ll feel I’ve been there before.”
In his amateur days he had a cross-town rivalry with Antony Fowler. However, now the two are more cordial with each other; Fowler is still in the amateurs and looking to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics at middleweight, while Smith is up at super middleweight and progressing with his own career.
He’s not married, but has a girlfriend and enjoys spending time with her and his family. Away from boxing Smith enjoys playing other sports, such as Golf, Snooker and Darts with his brothers in a friendly rivalry. He is also a keen supporter of Liverpool F.C. and says his hero is Sugar Ray Leonard.
Nov. 17 – Dan Blackwell – W 4
Dec. 8 – James Tucker – W 4
2013 Feb. 9 – Tommy Tolan – TKO 1
March 30 – Iain Jackson – RTD 1
Apr. 20 – Ruslans Pojonisevs – KO 1
May 25 – Ryan Moore – TKO 1
Sept. 7 – Kiril Psonko – TKO 1
Sept. 21 – Patrick Mendy – TKO 1
Oct. 26 – Ruben Eduardo Acosta – KO 6
Apr. 19 – Francois Bastient – RTD 3
May 17 – Tobias Webb – KO 2
July 12 – Vladine Biosse – UD 10
Aug. 16 – Abraham Hernandez – KO 1
Oct. 4 – Rafael Sosa Pintos – TKO 3
Nov. 22 – Nikola Sjekloca – UD 12
May 9 – Olegs Fedotovs – TKO 1