After obliterating veteran fighter Rafael Sosa Pintos (48-11, 19 KOs) in the third round last night, Callum Smith (14-0, 11 KOs) now has his sights firmly set on his upcoming WBC title eliminator against Nikola Sjekloca. Just as importantly, the Sjekloca fight will set the wheels in motion for a domestic clash with George Groves.
“I think everyone knows in the country he’s going all the way,” Smith’s promoter Eddie Hearn said after the fight. “He has an eliminator coming up against Sjekloca. He’ll be ready for a world title next spring. Hopefully it’ll be against George Groves.”
That is the battle of Britain that all boxing lovers want to see, and Smith's trainer Joe Gallaghe recently stated to Sky Sports News: "Groves is firmly in Callum's sights and that is the fight we want. We'll be hot on his heels whatever route he takes."
That is a pretty ominous warning to Groves, but it is music to ears of the British fans. Of course Smith cannot look beyond Sjekloca, but if he takes care of business as expected then he is on a collision course with Groves.
Hearn claims he has had written confirmation from WBC chairman Mauricio Sulaiman that the winner of Smith vs Sjekloca will be put in a position for a final eliminator. This means Callum Smith could soon be right behind Groves in the WBC pecking order.
All the signs point to a powder keg clash between Smith and Groves in late 2015. Yet the masterplan of putting those two in the ring together will be on the brink of ruin if Groves fails to beat WBC belt holder Anthony Dirrell.
Dirrell recently showed his disdain for Groves by stating that feels he is undeserving of a shot at his title so soon after suffering two knockout defeats to Carl Froch. However, Groves is the mandatory challenger for the WBC belt, which renders Dirrell’s reluctance to face Groves irrelevant. After an optional defence Dirrell will be forced to fight Groves.
Hypothetically speaking, if Groves were to defeat Dirrell, the domestic showdown with Smith is inevitable. The money generated by the fight would make it impossible for Groves to ignore.
There would be a groundswell of debate about who would win, but no-one would doubt that it would be a great fight. Although his record of quick knockouts suggests that Smith is a seek and destroy type fighter, he is actually a very patient boxer. Instead of simply throwing caution to the wind from the first bell, he carefully waits for opportunities before picking off his opponents with surgical precision.
Against Groves, who loves to come forward and throw lots of punches, there would be many openings for Smith to exploit. On the contrary, it remains to be seen how Smith will react when his rhythm is disrupted by an opponent who returns fire and forces him onto the back foot.
Up until now, most of Smith’s opponents have been in survival mode within the opening seconds, but you would suspect that Groves would far rather go out on his shield than retreat into his shell against Smith. The facts suggest it would be a fascinating clash of styles.
The contrasting styles would bring out the best in both fighters, who have the talent to test each to their very limits and the power to pile on the pain. However, if I had to bet on a winner, I would say the relentless body attack of Smith would buckle Groves and force a stoppage in the later rounds.
For now we will have to be content with letting the contest simmer, but it will be a brilliant fight when it is brought to the boil.