Saturday, September 30, 2023  |


Rocky Fielding: ‘Smith hasn’t been hit properly on the chin yet’

Fighters Network
Rocky Fielding (L) nails Bryan Vera with a left hook. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images.

Rocky Fielding (L) nails Bryan Vera with a left hook. Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images.

There are so many talented super middleweights in the U.K. that one had to be put at the back of the queue and that seems to have been the misfortune for Rocky Fielding, who goes fist-to-fist with Callum Smith this Saturday in their native city of Liverpool, England, with the vacant British title at stake.

With Carl Froch’s recent retirement, fan-focus switched to popular 168-pounders like IBF titleholder James DeGale and George Groves. In June, former three-time middleweight titleholder Martin Murray also moved up to super middleweight and Callum Smith just happens to be one of the most talked-about contenders in world boxing.

“He has been built up and spoken about a lot,” said Fielding, who is unbeaten at 21-0 (12 knockouts). “We’ll see if I get the hype around me when I win, but I’m not the type to start crying about that. Fighters can get raved about and then they come unstuck and disappear. I might not be getting built up but I’m unbeaten and I’ve done the business against everyone put in front of me.

“Callum hasn’t been hit properly on the chin yet and we don’t know how he’ll react. If he can take one, good luck to him, but I will be landing heavy shots, there’s no doubts about that. I will do anything to win this fight. I’m prepared to go into deep waters for the win and I’m just keeping a lid on my emotions until the fight is over.”

As one can see, Fielding appears to be every bit as confident as Smith ahead of this attractive domestic showdown but preparation has been grueling. The added incentive of facing a virtual next-door neighbor with world rankings on the line has lit a fire under the 28-year-old and his trainer Oliver Harrison.

“Oliver warned me that this was going to be a tough camp and he was right,” said Fielding. “It’s been the hardest camp I’ve ever had and he’s put me through all sorts (of) things that you wouldn’t even need to do in a fight. He just wants every box ticked and it will pay off on November 7.

“It’s been great having the pressure of fighting someone like Callum, but we’re not trash-talkers. When you walk around Liverpool there are people talking about the fight and there’s a real buzz so that’s lifting me and pushing me. Callum being from the same city and the importance of this fight, for both of us, makes it special.”

As is frequently the case when two fighters within such close proximity get ready to face off, there have been the obligatory sparring tales. Neither version of events match, which is never a surprise in a game where a psychological advantage can be every bit as crucial as a left hook to the jaw.

Fielding said, “We sparred as amateurs but I was a lot bigger than him back then. Joe Gallagher made out that Callum won the spars but it was me that was winning and bullying him because I was bigger and older. We supported each other in fights at that time; he came to watch me and I watched him in championships.

“It might be a battle between trainers in Joe’s head but it’s not for Oliver. He’s a level-headed guy, who keeps himself to himself and does his work behind closed doors. He doesn’t get in front of the cameras or go on social media. They would both probably like to get one over on each other, but this is work for Oliver. He keeps his head down and knows we have a job to do.”

Smith comes in as a heavy favorite but the build-up and respective demeanors of both men suggest that this fight could work wonders for British professional boxing.

Fielding said, “When I wake up at 6:30am for my jog it’s the first thing I think about and when I hit the pillow after a tiring day in the gym, it’s the last thing on my mind. I just think about winning the fight. Every time I go through pain, I’m thinking about him.

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