The future is bright for British boxing, with many young and established fighters either currently holding versions of world titles in their weight classes or who hope to fight for the right to call themselves world champions in the near future.
But perhaps the best young British talent with the brightest future is 24-year-old super-middleweight sensation Callum Smith.
One of the biggest questions on the lips of British boxing fans right now is: when will Callum Smith fight for a major title?
Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports recently insisted Smith will be ready to be thrown into his first real baptism of fire against an elite opponent in 18 months time.
However, many feel this is a very conservative estimate from Eddie Hearn. Indeed the Matchroom Sports supremo may have revised his estimation after witnessing Smith’s annihilation of a fellow young British prospect Tobias Webb.
Webb, the Welsh super-middleweight champion, who had only previously tasted defeat once out of 13 contests, was supposed to represent a real step up in class for the 6ft 3in Scouser. Yet he didn’t even last 6 minutes with Smith, who floored his opponent four times in the second round with crushing body blows- executed with surgical precision, with both hands.
With a body punch like Smith’s who could blame Matchroom for throwing his hat in the ring for the big fights sooner rather than later?
Smith is already out-growing the domestic scene despite only joining the professional ranks a mere 18 months ago. Eddie Hearn has a dilemma on his hands as far as Smith is concerned: does he wait to see how the cards fall in the super-middleweight division before deciding on Smith’s next move or does Hearn strike while the iron is hot and risk him with top level opposition?
There are obviously merits in both arguments. But it seems like Smith may be a victim of his own success, and his precipitous rise through the professional ranks has left his handlers scratching their heads and thinking ‘what do we do with him now?’
It is entirely understandable that Smith’s handlers to do not want to apply too much pressure on him and place him at a huge risk at such a premature stage in his fledgling career, but there is only so long they can be cautious with such a precocious young talent as ‘Mundo’ Smith.
There is a school of thought that says persisting with domestic opposition with Smith will be detrimental to his medium-long term development. What is the point on continuing to pair him up with fighters who are so clearly overmatched? On the contrary, if Smiths older brother Paul manages to secure a WBO world title fight with Arthur Abraham in the coming months then he will vacate his 168lb British title, which will smooth the path for Callum to become the fourth member of his family to hold the famous Lords Lonsdale belt. As previously mentioned, his oldest brother Paul (31) currently holds the British title at super-middleweight whilst Steven (28) was the former champion at 126lb and 130lb, and his other sibling Liam (25) is currently the light-middleweight champion.
Smith would love to enhance the incredible legacy of his brothers, telling GiveMeSport in an exclusive interview: “I've always said the British title is one I would like to win. I've seen my brothers all win it and it would be nice to get the set and do something I don't think will be done again.”
If Callum Smith does soon capture the British title, then perhaps his promoter Eddie Hearn could try and secure a European title fight with 39-year-old Sergey Khomitsky, who recently knocked out fellow British super-middleweight prospect Frank Buglioni, handing him a savage six round beating on the way to taking the Londoner's title. One suspects a showdown with Khomitsky could serve as a useful measuring stick in gauging Smith’s progress.
On that subject Smith said: “I would have preferred to of fought Buglioni as there was a lot of hype around him and myself and that would have been a big domestic fight. I always felt I had the style to beat him and it would have been nice to be the first to do so. But Khomitsky is a decent fighter. We'll see what plans Eddie has for me but if that's a fight he likes then I'm sure it will be a good test and show what level I'm at.”
“By the way things are going it looks like I'm going the WBC route so I think the silver title is one Eddie will look at in a few fight maybe. It's a good title to win. It was vacated by Degale and other holders are Khan, Bellew, and my brother Stephen. So that shows the level I'd need to be at to win and defend it”
Regardless of the path he takes, it seems inconceivable that Smith’s name will not be mentioned for major fights in the super-middleweight division in the not too distant future.
The future of British boxing is bright, but it will be even brighter when Callum Smith gets his chance to shine on the world stage.
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