Callum Smith: ‘Rocky Fielding is in for a shock’
High quality domestic collisions between British fighters have, in the past, been a good way of unearthing future world champions and the all-Liverpool matchup between Callum Smith and Rocky Fielding this Saturday could hail the arrival of super middleweight gold.
Both men are unbeaten and ranked comfortably within the Top 10 of at least one governing body and opinions are divided on who will prevail in their home city. One would think that there would be extra pressure ahead of such a crucial crossroads bout, a notion the 25-year-old Smith refutes.
“I’m treating this the same as every other fight,” said the RING No. 10-rated super middleweight. “I’m very confident but I do feel I have a point to prove. Liverpool is a great boxing city and there are split opinions with people saying Rocky will win. That adds a bit to it and makes me want to prove his fans wrong.
“I’ve known Rocky a long time and he’s a good lad. I’ve never had a bad word to say about him. As he’s turned pro, and started winning, people have been telling him he’s better than he is and he’s started to believe them. We don’t speak as much as we used to but that’s boxing. I think we always knew we would end up fighting each other.”
Smith got off to a dazzling start in the paid ranks; winning six of his first eight bouts inside one round (a British record) before establishing himself as one of the brightest prospects in world boxing. He is now 17-0 (12 knockouts) but the specter of Fielding has been hovering over him for years and his rival’s second-round thrashing of Brian Vera, in June, only increased demand for a showdown between the pair.
“I think a lot has been made of the Brian Vera win,” said Smith. “Vera had lost nine times and lost his last three going into that fight. He basically came out of retirement and was a career-middleweight who couldn’t cut it at the top level. If I’d knocked him out, I wouldn’t get the credit that Rocky has got for doing it. He looked good and got the win, but I think he made more out of it than he should have. I bring a lot more to the table than Vera and (Rocky) is in for a shock.
“I think I beat him in every department. If he wants to go on the back foot then I believe I’m the better boxer and if it’s an inside fight then I think I’m better in close. He keeps talking about his power, but if that’s the only way he thinks he can win then he’s reading too much into that. I’ve knocked out two guys that he couldn’t, so who is to say he’s the puncher in the fight?
The 6-foot-3 Smith is an imposing challenge for any 168-pound fighter and his aspirations go well beyond British title level.
“I know that 2016 could be a massive year for me,” he said. “I’m ranked number one with the WBC, so if I avoid any slip-ups then I’ll be fighting for a world title next year. But this fight is so important and I cannot take my eyes off the ball. I think about fights down the line but Rocky is in the way and I have a job to do.”
Information kindly provided by Matchroom Boxing
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing