‘THERE’S NO GUARANTEES’
Joe Gallagher speaks to John Dennen about the punishing losses, the Smiths and the World Boxing Super Series
RAINER Joe Gallagher began another busy run T with Callum Smith on Saturday, and will have Natasha Jonas, Paul Butler, Anthony Crolla and many more in action over the coming weeks. How tough has it been for you personally in recent months, with Anthony Crolla losing, Scott Quigg going to Freddie Roach and so on?
I went through a similar period a few years back when Matthew Macklin lost to Felix Sturm, which I thought was a good win, John Murray lost to Kevin Mitchell, Stephen [Smith] lost to [Lee] Selby. I was thinking I can’t buy a win here in the big fights. But I just think things are sent to test you. You can sit down, you can get depressed, you can mull it over. But it’s what you do with that. It’s how you come back from that. I think over the last 12 months the [Hosea] Burton loss hit me the most. I think that hurt me. A minute to go, and having seen how much joy it brought to his family when he won that belt against [Miles] Shinkwin, to be so close and just be inexperienced and lose... I’ve known him since age 11.
But look at the fights we were involved in. Liam Smith-canelo, Scott Quigg-carl Frampton. Anthony Crolla fought Jorge Linares for the WBA, WBC Diamond and Ring magazine belt. How many fighters in Britain get the chance to do that not once but twice? Liam Smith then came back and had a fantastic win over Liam Williams.
[Marcus Morrison] is in the gym with one of the kids he can take the biggest inspiration from from early setbacks and that’s Anthony Crolla. The setbacks he had early in his career didn’t stop him becoming world champion. There’s too much made of ‘0’s these days.
Stephen Smith had two hard fights against [ Jose] Pedraza and Jason Sosa, which was a fantastic fight. There’s another candidate for one of the fights of the year.
Would you say Liam Smith was flat, or didn’t wake up, in the first half of the Williams fight?
Liam is own worst critic. We knew Liam Williams would be up for it. He’d be sharp, the adrenalin is going, everything else. Liam Williams is very good on his feet moving with the jab. Liam Smith is very good at cutting the ring down. We weren’t going to over commit with shots we knew we’d be open to counters for, which Liam Williams is very good at.
Liam Smith knows sooner or later Liam Williams is coming off them toes. Liam Williams isn’t the best at up close inside fighting. Once he came off his toes and it came into Liam Smith’s fight, Liam Williams couldn’t handle that. [Williams was withdrawn after sustaining a bad cut.]
A fight isn’t won in the first few rounds, this is where it’s won, the championship rounds and Liam had him where he wanted. He was hitting him with body shots, bringing them down, hurting him. It was just a matter of time.
Are you disappointed Callum Smith wasn’t fighting for the WBC title?
When [Anthony] Dirrell pulled out they should have turned round and gone you’ve got to make it Smith-[erik] Skoglund. They should have really put the belt in the tournament.
It’s just a shame really. That belt should have been in it. But it’s the Diamond belt, no one from Britain’s ever won the Diamond belt.
Who do you think will be next?
I fancy [Rob] Brant to do [ Juergen] Braehmer... He’s a good fighter. He’s in house all the time with Errol Spence, the Charlos. He’s got good in-house sparring, he’s ambitious. When you watch his early fights he’s a bit raw, but he’s getting better and better.
How do you see the World Boxing Super Series panning out?
I’m confident, not very confident. People have made Callum favourite for this tournament, which he isn’t. It’s flattering, but when you look at the fighters in the tournament, George Groves, Juergen Braehmer, they’ve operated at world level for a long time. They’ve been in the big fights, the big nights, they’ve got the big-fight experience. The other side of it, George Groves-jamie Cox, that’s a good fight, but I expect George Groves to come through that. The juicy fight in the quarter-finals is Chris Eubank vs [Avni] Yildirim. That’s a tough, tough fight. Very surprised he picked him. [Yilidirim’s] not the biggest hitter, but has a good work ethic.
So I think Eubank-yildirim is a great fight, we’ll know an awful lot about both fighters after that fight. I’m a big admirer of Chris Eubank, I really am. He fought Arthur Abraham on a Saturday, he was in the gym on Monday lifting weights. I just like his work ethic. There’s a saying sometimes, skill will get you so far, just hard work, dedication and being fit will take you that little bit further. I think that’s a key thing for Chris Eubank Jnr. I think his volume in punches, his variety in his shots.
If he comes through that, George Groves-chris Eubank, that’s a great fight. Will it be the changing of the guard? It depends what’s left after those fights. We’re hoping we have an injury-free tournament with hands and cuts and everything else.
Callum Smith in the final against George Groves or Chris Eubank Jnr – that’s a great fight. But there’s no guarantees.
If you had to pick the final?
I think the final could most probably be Yildirim and Callum Smith.
‘I THINK THINGS ARE SENT TO TEST YOU. IT’S HOW YOU COME BACK’
PROUD: Gallagher trains and manages Callum Smith [right], who has a big opportunity in the World Boxing Super Series