Smith advances through the first stage of the World Boxing Super Series
Callum Smith opens his account in the World Boxing Super Series in Liverpool
THE change was sudden. Callum
Smith had opened his account against
Erik Skoglund in cool command. At the Echo Arena in his Liverpool hometown, Smith strode out to take the centre of the ring. The Swede kept moving, cantering from side to side but retreating as Smith landed his jab to set up long crosses to the head, jolting blows that kept Skoglund on the back foot. This was the first supermiddleweight quarter-final of the World Boxing Super Series but Smith was neither getting carried away with the occasion, nor showing much rust after nine months out the ring. But Skoglund, a quality, unbeaten fighter who’d descended from light-heavyweight, served a sharp reminder that Smith was now operating at world class level.
For the first third of the fight the Liverpudlian had successfully defused Skoglund’s jab. But in the fifth round Erik’s lead left began to thud through with alarming regularity. It shot through the gap in Callum’s guard, grinding into Smith’s face and allowing Skoglund to canter forward with ever increasing gusto. Blood started to cascade from Smith’s nose, highlighting Erik’s successes. The Swede continued his momentum in the sixth round, whipping hooks into Smith’s guard and maintaining his jab as a constant threat. It was not a crisis but these were nervy moments for Callum and his team.
Smith composed himself and steadied the flow of the fight, diligent strikes to the body staunching Skoglund’s energetic efforts in the second half of the contest. These rounds were close, competitive and hard but Callum was winning them. The breakthrough came in the 11th. Smith sent his right over the top of Skoglund’s left hand and impact wobbled the Swede. Callum pounced, hammering Skoglund with hooks to send him down to the canvas. A tough man, Erik rose but the Liverpudlian maintained the intensity. Smith shook him up with another countering right and finished the session pounding his own chest, satisfied with his work. Confident now Callum boxed his way through the last round to make sure of the decision. The judges were unanimous, John Keane scored 116-112, Michael Tate 117-110 and Ernesto Saldivar 117-111,
all for Callum Smith. Ian John Lewis was the referee.
“It was a good fight, he had a good jab and made me think,” Smith said. “Although there were a lot of close rounds I felt I was winning them.”
Skoglund reflected, “He’s a good puncher. He’s hard to catch. He looks a big target but once you get in there you can’t really feel your rhythm.
“Callum is a good fighter, a true champion.”
Smith, who had agreed to fight for the world title earlier this year only to see Anthony Dirrell back out, was awarded a WBC Diamond belt but his eyes are on further honours, with the WBA crown and the Muhammad Ali trophy potentially available later on in this Super Series competition. Martin Murray, on stand-by in case of an injury to either of the main eventers, efficiently dispatched Germany’s
Arman Torosyan. The St. Helens’ man tracked forward gradually ratcheting up the pressure. Torosyan tried to shrug off the hits he absorbed but was soon wilting. Murray shepherded him into a corner, looked upstairs before slotting a perfect right hook to the body, dropping and stopping Torosyan at 2-49 of the fourth round. John Lathan refereed. Woodville’s Zach Parker took out
Luke Blackledge with a short, savage back hand left hook that dropped the Darwen man and left him stunned. Referee Michael Alexander waved it off at 2-40 of the first round.
Highlight of the undercard saw Sunderland’s Isaac Macleod overcome Danny Craven in a six-round brawl. Macleod worked at a tremendous tempo, consistently taking the Warrington man back to the ropes as he launched hooks through his defence. Craven spun round him to unleash flurries but couldn’t change the momentum. Macleod won 58-57 for Mr. Latham. Reece Macmillan pushed forward aggressively when he took on Adam Little, winging through wide hooks. But the Kirkham man went to work, chopping through uppercuts to keep Macmillan at bay. Little forced the Morecambe man to the canvas in the fourth round. He attacked again and a heavy left hook to the body left Macmillan on his knees, where Mr. Latham counted him out at 1-29.
Brian Phillips made an explosive pro debut, dropping Poland’s Kamil Jaworek twice in the first round alone. Phillips slugged him down again and as he laid into him to end it in the second round.
Liverpool’s Lloyd Campbell jabbed
Michael Vosyka firmly into submission. The Czech carried his hands too low and felt the weight of Campbell’s shots, especially a right cross to the body. By the second round Vosyka was stranded on the ropes, enduring a beating and referee Jamie Kirkpatrick stopped him at 1-51.
Liverpudlian southpaw Luke Willis began firing in crisp combinations, popping straight shots through against Nicaragua’s Reynaldo Mora. The bout became scrappier over the course of the six rounds but Willis still made sure of a 60-54 victory from referee Howard Foster.
Local man Joe Wood took out Bulgaria’s Ilian
Markov in the third round. It had been scheduled for four.
Mikael Lawal looks an imposing cruiserweight but had to content himself carving out a 40-36 points win over Polish southpaw Jakub
Wojcik. John Latham refereed both. Local heavyweight John Gillies took a 39-37 points win after four rounds with Hungary’s Ferenc Zsalek, overseen by referee Howard Foster.
TELLING BLOW: Smith looks to catch Skoglund [left] with his right cross
TOUGH BATTLE: Skoglund bloodies Smith’s nose [below], until the Liverpudlian rallies [below right], drops him in the 11th round [above], and pounds his chest, satisfied with his work [right]