‘I didn’t have to trash any­one to be the best’

Cal­lum Smith won the world ti­tle his way to add to three broth­ers’ box­ing feats, says Gareth A Davies

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport -

The fam­ily emo­tion when Cal­lum Smith stopped Ge­orge Groves to claim the Muham­mad Ali Tro­phy and the No1 spot in the su­per­mid­dleweight di­vi­sion was over­whelm­ing in the ring in the fi­nal of the World Box­ing Su­per Se­ries last week. The Smiths got rowdy in Saudi.

The epony­mous spi­ral tro­phy, the World Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion crown and The Ring mag­a­zine belt all be­longed to the 28-year-old Liver­pudlian af­ter he ended Lon­doner Groves’s reign with a left hook and a body shot in the seventh round. But what spoke most was the fighter sink­ing to his knees, only to be en­veloped in an in­stant in a fa­mil­ial blan­ket by his three older box­ing broth­ers and his fa­ther. It was a mo­ment to savour as the youngest of the Smith war­riors com­pleted his rite of pas­sage.

Fa­ther Paul has been there for ev­ery one of his sons’ col­lec­tive 128 pro­fes­sional fights: for el­dest Paul, Stephen, Liam and now Cal­lum. Each of them has fought for a world ti­tle.

Smith told The Sun­day Tele­graph this week: “You saw from their re­ac­tion how much it meant to them. Ev­ery win is im­por­tant to us and we cel­e­brate to­gether. With me be­ing youngest, they’re quite pro­tec­tive of me. They’re my big­gest fans, and have been down the years. They’ll tell any­one who lis­tens that I’m the best and I will go on to achieve it all. To see me do it, and to see me beat the best, it was just as good a feel­ing for them as it was for me.”

Mar­garet, his mother, stays on lock­down dur­ing any of her sons’ fights. She can­not bear to watch. “She gave me a big hug when I got back and told me how proud she was of me. She’d been say­ing all week I was go­ing to do it. Whether she ac­tu­ally be­lieved that, I’m not too sure. She said she al­ways be­lieved in me.

“I think she goes off my dad’s and broth­ers’ mood dur­ing fight week and if they’re calm, she’s calm. She’s happy it’s an­other fight gone and we’re closer to the fin­ish line.”

Smith’s quiet de­meanour has barely changed in the past week as he has gone about his me­dia rounds.

“It’s just the way I am. Out­side the box­ing ring, I was a shy kid and quite quiet. I’m never go­ing to be one to shout my own praises. I don’t have that fast tongue like Tyson Fury or Conor McGre­gor.

I am who I am.

“I’ve al­ways felt I was good enough. If you’re good enough, peo­ple will want to watch you re­gard­less and you’ll get to where you want to be with­out hav­ing to trash talk.

“It’s nice to be able to sit here and say I’ve done that. From my pro de­but to the best in the world, I did it my way. I didn’t have to call any­one out or trash any­one to do it. Ev­ery time I’ve got in the ring I’ve per­formed, and that’s made peo­ple want to watch me.”

Smith has had to bide his time for this mo­ment. He is un­beaten, freak­ishly big for the di­vi­sion at

6ft 3in, has gen­uine power and ever-de­vel­op­ing box­ing abil­ity. It stands him in great stead to dom­i­nate the weight class.

“I’ve al­ways be­lieved I could out­box any­one of the top 10 in the world. I had not earned the right to say that. I’ve got a belt now, and I’ve got the right to say that. I do be­lieve I’m the best in the world and can beat any su­per­mid­dleweight out there.”

Smith cer­tainly matches favourably against other world ti­tle-hold­ers, Jose Uz­categui (In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion) and Gil­berto Ramirez, (World Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion).

“I think they’re good fight­ers and all quite dif­fer­ent. They’re all quite young, all four cham­pi­ons are in their twen­ties. Groves and James DeGale are in their thir­ties.

“Ramirez is a south­paw, very skil­ful and can fight the body. There’s some very good fights out there that would be classed as 50-50. I’m not head and shoul­ders above them all, they are tough fights. Hope­fully, a few years down the line, I’ll have won some of the other belts and ce­ment that I am the best in the di­vi­sion.”

The big am­bi­tion is to de­fend his ti­tle at An­field, home of Liver­pool FC. “I’ve al­ways said I’d need a world ti­tle to do it,” he said. “Now An­field has got a li­cence to do other sport­ing events, so it feels that lit­tle bit closer. Tony Bellew did it at Good­i­son, box­ing out­doors, so it can be done. With the right fight and right un­der­card I be­lieve it will hap­pen and I have spo­ken to Ed­die Hearn about it. “Hope­fully, Liver­pool will win the [Premier League] ti­tle, and then I’ll fight there next sum­mer.”

‘It was just as good a feel­ing for my fam­ily as it was for me, we cel­e­brate to­gether’

Ring master: Cal­lum Smith claimed the WBA ti­tle and the Muham­mad Ali Tro­phy (be­low)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.