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Callum Smith: ‘I’m good enough to become world champion’

Callum Smith (right) tags Hadillah Mohoumadi on April 2, 2016. Photo: Courtesy of Matchroom Boxing
12
Jan

Callum Smith upped his record to 22-0 (17 knockouts) last month after brutally stopping Luke Blackledge in the 10th round to retain his British super middleweight crown, as well as preserving his WBC mandatory status.

The 26-year-old Liverpudlian took a well-deserved break to Dubai before returning home last Monday and, after a day on the golf course, returned to the gym on Wednesday.

He’ll, once again, be jetting off, this time, to New York, where he’ll attend the James DeGale-Badou Jack IBF/WBC super middleweight title unification bout (in which the vacant RING magazine championship will also be up for grabs) this weekend at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn. Along with trainer Joe Gallagher, they’ll see firsthand who their next opponent will be.

“Yeah, it’s exciting,” Smith told RingTV.com last Tuesday. “I’ve been pro four years now. I’ve had a lot of learning fights. I’ve been tipped from a few fights in as a future world champion and I think it’s kind of took the shine off everything I’ve ever won. I won a British title and it was, ‘Oh yeah, he’s gonna win a world title; he was expected to win that.’ Same as when I won the European (title), it’s always been, ‘Yeah, but when are you fighting for the world one?’ It would be nice to prove a lot of people right.



“I believe I can become world champion. I think I’m good enough to. I think it’s time to test myself and see if I am good enough. I believe I am but I think my recent fights have shown I perform well up until I become a mandatory and then I’ve just been keeping busy but it’s not what I want to do. I want to test myself against the best and the only way I can do that now is by fighting for a world title. I won a British title in one round; I won a European title in one round and the only way to test myself is (against) the bigger names in the division; that’s the plan in 2017. It’ll be an interesting year and one I’ll be looking forward to.”

The winner of DeGale-Jack will widely be lauded as the No. 1 fighter in the world at 168 pounds. However, Smith and Gallagher aren’t 100 percent sold on that notion.

“I think the winner should be considered the best, although I do think (WBO titlist Gilberto) Ramirez is a good fighter and he should be in with a shout,” explained Smith, “but, up until his win over (Arthur) Abraham, he was kind of unknown. He’s only just got his title.

“The winner of DeGale-Jack, of this, will probably be seen as the best in the division but I think, looking further down the line, I’d like to see myself up there and I think Ramirez is one to watch. I think he’s a good fighter.”

THE RING magazine’s “2015 Trainer of the Year” concurs with his fighter.

“People are quick to say this’ll (determine) the number one (super middleweight in the world). I wouldn’t go that far. You’ve got to look at Gilberto Ramirez; (he’s) a very good fighter,” said the venerable trainer. “The way that he boxed technically against Arthur Abraham, a very schooled fighter and, for me personally, I do feel he’s the number one super middleweight in the world at the moment.”

As well as a mandated shot at the WBC title, Smith will also fight for the IBF and THE RING magazine titles.

All of this softens the blow of having to wait several months for his big opportunity.

“I said that, when I was made to wait while they fought, it was only going to work out better for me in the long run and now there’s a possibility of me getting two belts in the one night and THE┬áRING magazine title,” he said. “I could go from British and European champion and untested to the best super middleweight in the world by winning one fight.

“It’s exciting for me. I dream of becoming world champion and the best super middleweight in the world. I believe 2017 is the year I can do that – fingers crossed – I’m always working hard in the gym, I’m always trying to improve but I’m always the first to say I’m not the finished article but I do believe I’m good enough to beat James DeGale or Badou Jack.”

Until Saturday has played out, Smith and Gallagher are on the outside guessing when their shot will come, though are both optimistic it will be in the first half of 2017 and in their next fight.

The winner of DeGale vs. Jack has 28 days to negotiate a fight with Smith and then the fight has to happen within 90 days.

“I’ve seen (Matchroom Boxing’s) Eddie (Hearn) and DeGale doing a couple of interviews saying it’ll be May time. If it’s May time, I’ll go right into that,” he said. “I’ll do a good few weeks’ strength stuff and slowly get back into my boxing training. We’ll know a lot more when we know who has won and we’ll have a rough idea. If it’s a tough fight, they’re gonna want a break. If it’s an easy night, for one of them, they might want to go straight into another fight. It all depends how it pans out.”

Gallagher is keen to set the wheels in motion.

“(We) just need to know who it’ll be before we start going to work,” Gallagher explained, “whether we need southpaws or switch-hitters like James DeGale or orthodox fighters like Badou Jack. Callum Smith just fought recently. He’s not let himself go. He’s done a lot of strength work. He’s had a break. He knows the next one is the big one.”

It augurs well for the super middleweight division, which has lacked direction since Carl Froch retired and Andre Ward migrated to light heavyweight, where he now holds the IBF, WBA and WBO titles. It could very well be returning to the good old days.

 

 

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.

 

 

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