By: Bryant Romero
Callum Smith earned a place in the WBSS final and a showdown with George Groves with a tougher than expected win over a very game Nieky Holzken in Nuremberg, Germany. Holzken (13-1) was a late replacement who took the fight on 5 days notice following the withdrawal of Jurgen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) who was originally scheduled to fight Smith.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Holzken showed no hesitation in replacing Braehmer and came into the fight with tremendous confidence. The 27-year-old Smith (24-0, 17 KOs) was obviously disappointed that Braehmer had pulled out, but now he had to worry about an undefeated Holzken, which he didn’t know much about and admitted after the fight, he may have underestimated the Dutchman a little.
The undefeated Brit started the fight strong, establishing his distance while maintaining it and consistently popping the Dutchman with clean jabs. Holzken was game however, as he continued to apply pressure throughout the fight and at times displaying good head movement, slipping some of Smith’s jabs. Holzken would at times land some really good power shots, but his lack of activity and shaky defense at times would cost him a lot of the early rounds.
Smith was content with keeping the Dutchman at distance, while also outworking and outpunching Holzken throughout the majority of the rounds. As the rounds progressed to the middle rounds however, Smith started to show signs of fatigue and Holzken would start to make a push in the middle rounds landing some nice clean hard shots.
The 34-year-old Dutchman was competitive throughout the fight and surprised many with the type of moments he was producing in the bout. Some predicted he would get stopped within six rounds, but Holzken closed the fight very strong and got the better of Smith in the final round. Holzken fought very well, but Smith’s workrate, clean jabs, and outlanding Holzken throughout the majority of the rounds would prove to be the difference.
With the win, Callum Smith keeps his undefeated record intact and will now get the fight he’s wanted the most, which is a world title opportunity against WBA super middleweight champion George Groves (28-3, 20 KOs) in the WBSS final. The final is scheduled for June 2 in the UK, but with the shoulder injury to Groves following his win over Eubank Jr, the final could get pushed back to a new date.