BRING ON WARD AND LOMACHENKO
Last year was great, but we’re ready to make 2019 even more memorable
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.
CHAMPION: Callum Smith after scoring one of best wins of 2018 by a British ghter