BRING ON WARD AND LOMACHENKO

Last year was great, but we’re ready to make 2019 even more mem­o­rable

Boxing News - - Guest Column - Lead­ing Bri­tish Trainer Joe Gal­lagher

WHAT a 12 months it was for Cal­lum Smith. He fin­ished the year as the num­ber one su­per­mid­dleweight in the world. We’re af­ter the big fights in 2019. We’re af­ter An­dre Ward, but from what I’m hear­ing he wants silly money to come out of re­tire­ment. We want to fight at An­field, although by the sounds of it they’re not play­ing ball. It sounds like it’s cheaper to hire out Wem­b­ley Sta­dium than An­field, which I’m re­ally dis­ap­pointed about. Cal­lum wants the big names, and if that means hav­ing to move up to light-heavy­weight, then we will do. Cal­lum’s never been one to duck a chal­lenge and he’s al­ways per­formed best against the bet­ter fight­ers. He wants to con­tinue to do this in 2019 and be­come a house­hold name – get­ting the whole of Liver­pool and the whole of the coun­try be­hind him. I think Cal­lum is still very un­der­rated. I don’t think he gets the ac­knowl­edg­ment and recog­ni­tion he de­serves for what he’s achieved. As well as Ward, Canelo Al­varez is a great fight. We’d love to fight him. Then there’s Badou Jack, Dmitry Bivol and Gen­nady Golovkin. There’s also po­ten­tial uni­fi­ca­tion fights out there, such as Gil­berto Ramirez.

Like Cal­lum, An­thony Crolla had a very good year, book­ing him­self a shot at Va­syl Lomachenko by beat­ing Daud Yor­dan. An­thony likes to test him­self and push him­self. That’s why he wants to go in there and chal­lenge Lomachenko, who’s con­sid­ered by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. An­thony’s al­ready train­ing for that fight. We’re just wait­ing on a date and venue now. There’s talk of it be­ing in Amer­ica, so that’d be an­other thing ticked off the bucket list for An­thony – be­ing in­volved in a mas­sive fight in the States.

Don’t for­get Liam Smith. He’s one of the best fight­ers this coun­try has. Ev­ery­one for­gets his per­for­mance against Canelo in 2016 and his per­for­mance against Jaime Mun­guia last year. Liam’s such a qual­ity, qual­ity fighter – great on the in­side. He’s an­other one who doesn’t get the credit he de­serves. He’s ready for a huge 2019. He just needs to be more ac­tive this year. He wants the Jar­rett Hurd fight. He’s des­per­ate for that fight. He wants to get back in the world ti­tle mix. I know there’s an­other world ti­tle belt in Liam Smith. In Bri­tain, there’s al­ways talk of Kell Brook and Amir Khan, but no one men­tions Liam Smith. A lot of peo­ple over­look him, but he’s the num­ber one in the coun­try at 154lbs. If we get the Jar­rett Hurd fight, I’ll tell you now, we’ll be com­ing home with the belts.

Cal­lum John­son shocked a lot of peo­ple with his per­for­mance against Ar­tur Beter­biev. The [Bri­tish Box­ing] Board [of Con­trol] have or­dered him to de­fend his Bri­tish light-heavy­weight ti­tle against Joshua Bu­atsi. That’s a great fight – we’ll have that. I’ve al­ready said to [promoter] Ed­die [Hearn] that we’ll snap his hand off for that. They’ve got to be care­ful there. They could be push­ing Joshua Bu­atsi a bit too early. If that fight can get made, we’ll have it. Re­gard­less, Ed­die has as­sured us that he’ll get Cal­lum an­other big fight in Amer­ica this year. Cal­lum was an­noyed with him­self af­ter the Beter­biev fight. He kept say­ing to me, ‘I can beat him. I want the re­match.’ That just shows you that he’s had a taste of world level now and he wants more of it. He has world-class power. He wants an­other world ti­tle shot, or at the least a Euro­pean ti­tle shot. He’s an ex­cit­ing and ex­plo­sive fighter who’ll never be in a dull fight.

I should never have let Paul But­ler fight Em­manuel Ro­driguez. He was ill two weeks be­fore, but he half twisted my arm be­cause of what was rid­ing on the fight. It was on a pay-per­view show and there was a world [ban­tamweight] ti­tle on the line. Af­ter that fight, I said to my­self, ‘I’ll never ever let a fighter twist my arm again. If the kid’s not right, he’s not fight­ing.’ I should’ve pulled him out. That wasn’t the real Paul But­ler in the ring that night. But fair play to him, he dusted him­self off and had a good win as a re­serve in the World Box­ing Su­per Se­ries in No­vem­ber. We’ll be push­ing for him to get an­other world ti­tle shot this year.

Photo: AC­TION IM­AGES/AN­DREW COULDRIDGE

CHAM­PION: Cal­lum Smith af­ter scor­ing one of best wins of 2018 by a Bri­tish ghter

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