Smith Awarded Controversial Decision Win In Hometown Fight Against Ryder
By: Sean Crose
Callum Smith may have been regarded as the big dog in the super middleweight division, perhaps even bigger than fellow titlist Canelo Alvarez. Yet if Saturday’s performance against the largely unknown John Ryder is any indication, the assertions may have been a bit short sighted. While it’s true every fighter is entitled to a bad night every so often, Ryder gave the champion all he could handle. Some are even suggesting that it was Ryder, not Smith, who should have been awarded the victory by the judges after the bell at the final round. Still, it was Smith who got the decision win in front of his hometown of Liverpool, England, improving his record to 27-0.
Photo Credit : Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
It was a night Smith won’t soon forget, however. Ryder asserted himself right off the bat in round one by attacking Smith’s body while the much taller defending champion tried to find his range. Ryder continued to impress in the second, crouching in a style reminiscent of Dempsey and Frazier, while Smith managed to land some shots. Smith became more assertive in the third, as his fists started to find their mark. By the fourth round, however, it was Ryder’s body shots that were telling the tale. Smith began well enough in the fifth, but straight, accurate punching from Ryder undid much of Smith’s good work. Although slow to pull the trigger, the champion was able to punch effectively in a sixth round punctuated by a hard right.
The aggressive Ryder made the seventh a grinding affair, though Smith’s hard, steady work may have told the tale. Ryder did well in the eighth, though Smith may have done a bit better. By the ninth, Smith was no longer slow to pull the trigger. He was firing regularly, especially with his jab, and that was ultimately telling the tale. The tenth was close, but Ryder was appearing to slow down a bit in his still relentless forward movement. Ryder effectively bulled his way through a strong eleventh round. The twelfth saw Ryder slugging his way to edge the round. The judges, of course (this is boxing, after all) gave the victory to Smith by a comfortable margin, bringing Ryder’s overall record to 28-5. BoxingInsider had it a draw.
If there was one thing fans and analysts could take away from the fight, it’s that Ryder is a serious force to be reckoned with at supermiddleweight. Short, stocky, muscular, and gruellingly aggressive, the London native had won four in a row by stoppage before Saturday night’s throwdown with Smith for Smith’s WBA title. What’s more, there were several times late in the fight where it looked like he might have had the rising star from Liverpool on the verge of being seriously hurt. Team Smith, on the other hand, will probably see a need for growth after Saturday’s performance. For too much of the fight, the defending champion had left himself too easy a target. He had also allowed Ryder to push him around for a considerable portion of the bout.
Callum Smith Looking To Impress Against John Ryder
By: Sean Crose
Liverpool M&S Bank Arena will host Saturday’s scheduled 12 round showdown between WBA super middleweight titlist Callum Smith and fellow Brit John Ryder. Smith is highly regarded, with a record of twenty-six wins and no losses. With victories over the likes of George Groves and Hassan N’Dam, Smith is also considered a man who can face some of the sport’s bigger challenges. What’s more, Smith himself is more than willing to step up to the figurative plate. “I believe I’m the No 1 in that (super middleweight) division,” Smith is recently quoted as saying by Sky Sports, “so he’ll have to come and beat me to take that place”
Photo Credit: Joe Gallagher Twitter Account
It’s easy to guess who Smith was referring to in the above quote. For Canelo Alvarez jumped up to super middleweight and snagged a title for himself by besting Rocky Fielding late last year. Not that Smith is relying on a fight with Canelo to define himself and his career. “I’m not going to waste my career waiting for a fight that might never happen,” Smith added. “If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, there’s still plenty of other big fights.” Some of those other fights may include the likes of fellow champions David Benavidez, Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant, as Smith has indicated a willingness to unify the super middleweight division.
“That’s what I want,” Smith told Sky, “to collect as many belts as I can. To cement myself as the best on the planet.” Still, though, there’s the matter of London’s Ryder, who Smith is going to face this weekend. Although he’s clearly an underdog, the 28-4 fighter is getting a title shot in a year where upsets are in the air. “”It’s a massive opportunity for him,” Sky quotes Smith as saying of his opponent. “He’ll have had the best training camp he’s ever had and he’ll be coming to give it his all.”
Although he doesn’t have the most prestigious resume, the 31 year old Ryder is riding – pardon the pun – a four fight winning streak that began back in 2017 when he knocked out Patrick Nielson at Wembley. Although he’s viewed as essentially being a tuneup for a rising star, Ryder has taken to knocking opponents out on a regular basis since losing to Rocky Fielding in 2017 by split decision.
Yet Smith and Ryder aren’t the only attractions on Saturday’s card – which will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service. The 10-1-0 Anthony Fowler will be facing the 8-0 Harry Scarff for the World Boxing Association International Super Welterweight Title, which is currently vacant, in a scheduled 10 rounder. James Tennyson, who some may remember being stopped by Tevin Farmer back in 2018, will also be on the card. The 25-3 fighter will be stepping in the ring to face the 20-2-2 Craig Evans in a 12 round lightweight affair.
Although the undercard isn’t stellar and the main event is expected to be one sided, Saturday’s Smith-Ryder card can be seen as something of a tuneup in its own right, as it will air several hours before the heavyweight title pay per view fight between Deontay Wilder, and Luis Ortiz.
Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz, Callum Smith vs. Hassan N’Dam Fight Previews
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions will bring their heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, to the United States to make his US debut and defend his titles against challenger Andy Ruiz Jr.
Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was originally scheduled to face Joshua, but a positive steroid test forced him to withdraw from the fight and allowed for Ruiz to step up and get this opportunity.
This fight card will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City and will be streamed live on DAZN.
The co-main event of the evening will be a WBA Super Middleweight Title fight between Callum Smith and Hassan’ N’Dam.
The undercard is also stacked and features a women’s lightweight unification title bout between Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon. Chris Algieri, Tommy Coyle, Josh Kelly, Joshua Buatsi, and Diego Pacheco are just some of the contenders that will also be competing on the undercard.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
Callum Smith (25-0) vs. Hassan N’Dam (37-3); WBA Super Middleweight Title
Callum Smith is one of the best boxers out of the United Kingdom and Saturday will be the first time he fights in the United States.
Smith will have some noticeable physical advantages over N’Dam. He will have a large three and a half inch height advantage over N’Dam and he’s also six years younger than him. Both boxers have fought once in 2018 and twice in 2017.
Smith appears to be the more powerful puncher of the two. Smith has eighteen stoppages on his record in only twenty five fights while N’Dam has twenty one stoppages on his record in forty fights.
Smith has beaten the likes of George Groves, Nieky Holzken, Erik Skoglund, and Rocky Fielding. He has never been defeated as a professional.
N’Dam has lost to the likes of Peter Quillin, David Lemieux, and Ryoto Murata. He has beaten the likes of Martin Murray, Ryoto Murata, Curtis Stevens, Max Bursak, and Avtandil Khurtsidze.
Both boxers had successful amateur careers. Smith has success on the national level in Great Britain and N’Dam has competed in the 2004 and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
N’Dam has the ability to pull off an upset, as he did when he defeated Murray and Murata. But he’s coming up in weight to face a good puncher who’s significantly younger than him.
This fight is an excellent opportunity for Smith to impress the fans in the United States.
Anthony Joshua (22-0) vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.(32-1); IBF/WBA/WBO Heavyweight Title
Anthony Joshua holds three of the four widely recognized heavyweight titles. He’s considered to be one of the, if not the, best heavyweights in the world today.
However, Saturday will be the first time he’s fighting in the United States and it’s against an opponent very few believe has a chance at beating him.
Andy Ruiz is a good fighter, he only has one loss on his record and was a former Mexican National Champion as an amateur. However, Joshua is a boxer who has never been defeated and has stopped every single one of his opponents except one. And while Ruiz was a Mexican National Champion as an amateur Joshua won the Gold Medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Joshua will have a large four inch height advantage and a very large eight inch reach advantage. They are both twenty nine years old. Joshua fought twice in 2018 and twice in 2017. Ruiz fought once in 2019, twice in 2018, and did not fight in 2017.
Joshua has beaten the likes of Povetkin, Parker, Takam, Klitschko, Molina, Breazeale, Martin, and Whyte.
Ruiz has defeated the likes of Dimitrenko, Johnson, Austin, Liakhovich, Hamer, and Hanks. He has only been beaten by Joseph Parker.
it’s hard to imagine this fight going the full twelve rounds. Ruiz has boxing skills, but he’ll be significantly undersized against a man who’s skills are just as good.
This should be an easy victory for Joshua.
Johnson-Monaghan Clash A “Do Or Die” Moment For Both Fighters
By: Sean Crose
Per Matchroom Boxing: “Callum Johnson and Sean Monaghan will clash in a crunch Light-Heavyweight battle at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York on Saturday March 9, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.” The 17-1 Johnson, who suffered a KO loss to IBF World Light Heavyweight Champion Artur Beterbiev last October in Chicago, is eager for a chance at redemption. A win against the popular Monaghan on the undercard of the Dmitry Bivol-Joe Smith Jr/ Maurice Hooker-Mikkel Les Pierre double header in Verona would certainly prove good for the Englishman’s career.
“I was gutted in the Beterbiev fight,” Johnson says. “I was gutted because I felt the occasion maybe got to me, but I still had good moments in the fight and I’ve learned a lot from it…I know that if a second shot comes my way, I will be more than ready for it with the experience of Chicago behind me. Sean always puts everything into his fights and he badly needs this win, just like I do, so there should be fireworks.” Johnson, who has earned all four of his previous wins by knockout, is clearly hoping to impress.
Yet the 29-2 Monaghan is looking to redeem himself, as well. As Matchroom puts it: “The New Yorker enters the bout gone the ten round distance with Sullivan Barerra in November, and the 37 year old sees a victory over Johnson as a must-win to keep his World title dreams alive.” Aside from being handed a loss by Barerra last November, Smith has also been defeated by now WBA interim Light Heavyweight champ Marcus Browne via stoppage in 2017. A win against a name fighter might do wonders for the New Yorker’s career at this point, which helps make the bout with Johnson the must win occasion it is for both men.
“I’ve had my eye on Callum since before the Beterbiev fight,” Monaghan claims. “He has a come forward pressure style and our styles should make for a fan friendly fight.” Monaghan also makes it clear that facing an English fighter comes with risks in and of itself. “I know these Brit’s always come in shape,” he says, “so I’m already working very hard. This is a fight I absolutely need to win. No excuses, it’s do or die for me.” The Johnson-Monaghan match is scheduled for ten rounds.
Golovkin Could Move Up to Super Middleweight to Face Champ Callum Smith
By: Michael Kane
Could Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs) be following Canelo Alvarez to the super middleweight division?
According to Matchroom Promotions supremo Eddie Hearn that is a possibility.
Canelo (50-1-2, 34 KOs) faces WBA Regular champ Rocky Fielding (27-1,15 KOs) in New York on Dec 15th, in a debut fight at the 168 lbs division. Hearn has said talks have started about GGG taking on WBA Super champion Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs), potentially at the home of Liverpool FC, Anfield, next year.
If Smith doesn’t face GGG then there is talk of him moving to light heavyweight for a shot against one of the champions from that division.
“I’ve spoken to Tom Loeffler [‘GGG’s promoter] about it before,” Hearn told Sky Sports, “not since the press conference last week though
“That’s my No 1 choice for Callum Smith.
“I think it’s a fight that fills Anfield. It’s a great profile fight, it’s a great fight, full stop.
“Also, for Golovkin it gives him a chance to move up, do what ‘Canelo’ is doing, fight for the ‘Super’ title, and also for the ‘Ring’ magazine title at 168lbs.”
GGG may fancy a move up to super middleweight having competed at middleweight for so long and could set up another blockbuster with Canelo in the process, this time at super middleweight.
“If he [Golovkin] is even close to the mark in terms of weight at middleweight, it might be a good option,” Hearn continued.
“But whether he wants to take that risk before a possible third Canelo fight, I don’t know.”
WBSS On DAZN Results: Smith Stops Groves
By: Ste Rowen
Callum Smith stopped George Groves in the 7th round in world class fashion, to become the new super middleweight WBA and Ring Magazine champion, as well as the first ever World Boxing Super Series super middleweight conqueror.
Tonight’s venue was the 10,000-capacity seat arena within Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City, the first official event of its kind held in Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, but the unusual venue didn’t change the approach that usually starts George’s bouts.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
As always seems to be the case in Groves’ fights, the two fighters made a tentative start, both pawing away with the jab, attempting to find a weak spot early.
Smith, in the immaculate white and silver shorts, looked comfortable firing off the counter. The 2nd saw both fighters land eye-catching shots but it seemed the WBA champion’s work behind the jab made the difference.
With just over 1:30 left of round 3 though, ‘Mundo’ landed a counter-right hand that shook Groves, 28-3 (20KOs), enough to back him up and, for a brief moment, look shaky. Smith, 24-0 (17KOs) was unable to properly capitalise and ‘The Saint’ regained his equilibrium and end the round relatively well. Though Smith landed a crowd-pleasing right hand at the beginning of the 4th, George boxed smartly from there.
Smith seemed undeterred however, when his fellow Brit landed, Callum kept his head up and continued to maneuverer forward; even when, with 18 seconds left of the 5th, ‘Mundo’s’ feet were swept from underneath him after the two fighter’s legs became entangled.
Into 6 and 7 – despite another awkward fall that saw Smith on the canvas – it felt as if the WBC ‘Diamond’ champion was getting into his groove. He wasn’t just landing pleasing shots now, the Liverpudlian was forcing the tournament’s #1 seed further and further back.
With less than 1:20 left of round 7 Smith landed an almighty left hook that shook ‘The Saint’ to the ropes, unable to reply as ‘Mundo’ continued to land until he was forced to drop to his knee. The referee stepped in to call a conclusion to proceedings just as Callum landed one last right hand. A clinical finish from a man who is no doubt tired of being called un-proven. You can no longer label him that anymore.
With legends like Naseem Hamed and Evander Holyfield already in the ring, Rashida Ali, Muhammad’s daughter, presented Callum with the WBSS trophy to top off a lifechanging night for Callum Smith.
Now the main man at 168lb, Smith acknowledged the significance of tonight’s win.
‘‘It’s been a long time coming…I know how good I am, and I know I was good enough to become a world champion and become the best on the planet. I’ve had a slow couple of years and people kind of forgot me and forgot how good I was…I’ve reminded people how good I am.’’
‘‘It was a good fight. I felt I was ahead at the time of the stoppage. I feel I was beating him at his own game…I always knew I had the power to finish him, but I showed I could live with him, with my boxing ability as well.’’
‘‘Credit to George Groves, he’s a great champion. It was an honour to share the ring with him…I’ve never been satisfied but I think you’ve seen tonight how much this means to me. A lifetime’s work all rolled into one.’’
Groves was complimentary to the victor post-fight,
‘‘It was just not meant to be, full credit to Callum…He caught me with a body shot in the end, which is very embarrassing for me. I’ve never been caught with a body shot in my life, so I can’t believe he did it.’’
‘‘We knew he could punch. He’s got a higher reach on me as well, so I didn’t wanna go 50-50 with him and trade. I was making him miss and making him pay. He got the decisive shot in the end.’’
And when asked about his shoulder, previously injured in the WBSS semi-final,
‘‘I’m not here to make excuses, the shoulder worked. Callum, to his credit, was the better man on the night, and for someone like me, that’s tough to say…I’m not retiring, I don’t know what’s next, but it’s been a dogged year.’’
Now for only the 3rd time in the belt’s history, the Ring Magazine has an owner, the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight champion, Callum Smith.
On the undercard…
A bearded Chris Eubank Jr moved to 27-2 (21KOs) with a 3rd round technical knockout of JJ McDonagh. The southpaw from Ireland, McDonagh, bizarrely fell to the canvas in the 1st round after receiving what looked like a routine left hook to the side of the head. The Irishman regained his senses, but it put Chris up on the cards immediately. Eubank looked to have the upper hand, despite it being competitive, JJ pulled out at the end of round 3, seemingly a shoulder injury. In the corner between rounds 3 and 4, Eubank could be heard shouting to the opposite corner, ‘‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it.’’ Unfortunately for those watching, he did.
‘‘It was a good fight while it lasted but the going got too tough for him, so he quit.’’ Chris said post-fight. JJ McDonagh joined the interview and got himself riled up when Chris told him he could’ve fought on, leading the Irishman to say, ‘‘I’ll fight you right now with one hand.’’ A strange offer from a man who 10 minutes earlier, literally had the opportunity to fight him with one hand.
The 29-year-old was the main event’s injury reserve and although the tournament hasn’t unfolded the way he predicted, Eubank will no doubt have gained some new fans after two entertaining scraps with WBSS quarterfinalist, Avni Yildrim and tonight’s loser, George Groves.
Darren Surtees, an undefeated welterweight from County Durham scored a 2nd round knockout over 8-4, Kane Baker to improve his own record to 9-0 (6KOs). Baker was dropped in round 2 by a short-left hand, and then Surtees unleashed a volley of punches which ended in a left-hook which sent Baker falling into the ropes and eventually onto the canvas. Darren landed a cheeky right hand for good measure whilst his foe was on the way down.
The only representative of Saudi Arabia on the card, super lightweight, Zuhayr Al Qahtani moved to London when he was 12 and today, he moved to 5-0 (0KOs) after earning a 4-round decision over late replacement, Mohamed Mahmoud, whose now lost all six of his professional fights.
Al Qahtani looked slick as he landed quick-handed combinations, however it was Mahmoud who ended the 1st brightest, landing occasionally but clearly hard enough to upset Zuhayr’s flow. The fight continued to be entertaining, if a little stop-and-start due to holding and messy breaks but ultimately, ‘The Arabian Warrior’s’ performance was good enough to get the win.
Cruiserweight, Mikael ‘The Beast’ Lawal, 7-0 (5KOs) heading into tonight, added another W and KO to his pro record with a 3rd round knockout of journeyman-in-the-making, Tamas Kozma. The Hungarian, Kozma made the better start of the two but in the 3rd, Lawal landed a chopping overhand right to the back of the head, dropping his opponent to the canvas and ending the night early.
Heavyweight Kem Ljungquist of Denmark made light work of Mourad Omar by stopping the Egyptian after just two rounds, to move to 6-0 (4KOs). The Danish southpaw unrelentingly stalked the 4-1 fighter throughout the proceedings and just as the bell rang for the beginning of the 3rd, Omar told the referee he’d had enough and stayed seated to put an end to the bout.
Groves and Smith Ready to Close Inaugural Ali Trophy Season in Style
By: Michael Kane
George Groves and Callum Smith spoke to the media ahead of their World Boxing Super Series final bout.
The Ali Trophy is up for grabs to end the inaugural middleweight season, delayed by a few months due to Groves suffering a shoulder injury.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
The bout between the two Englishman takes place in an unusual location, the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Groves is the current WBA Super World Champion, while Smith is the WBC Diamond title holder, the Ring magazine title will also be up for grabs.
Here is what the fighters had to say at the press conference:
“It’s great to finally be only a day or two away from the fight. We’ve had a great camp in the end. It took a long time to get back to full fitness, but we’re there now, and everything has gone as good as it possibly could. After such a long training camp and a long time since my last win, I can’t wait to fight and to collect some new belts and the Ali Trophy.
“I have been involved in some real big fights as a professional. I recently became WBA Super Champion and ranked number one in the division. Up for grabs for me this time around is the Ring Magazine belt, the WBC Diamond Championship and obviously the Ali Trophy as well.
“The tournament is only in year one, but everyone is extremely excited about it. It is a very prestigious thing to be associated with it, and I’m going to make sure I win it and win it well to stake my claim as the number one in the division.”
“It is a massive opportunity for me. Every fighter who starts boxing dreams of becoming a World Champion and I was no different. I turned professional and I believed my abilities were good enough to tell me to the very top and Friday night I get a chance to be there.
“A win over George puts me as the best super middleweight in the world, and a World Champion and a Ring Magazine Champion. It ticks a lot of boxes for me this fight, there is a lot at stake and that’s why I turned professional, for fights like these. I’ excited. I’m in a good place. I feel good, I feel strong. I’m ready to do what I came here to do and that’s become a World Champion.”
Shane McGuigan (Groves coach):
“It’s very different (from Eubank Jr. fight). You’ve got a guy who’s 6 foot or 5’11 and another guy whose 6’3’’. Completely different styles and that has been reflected in our training camp.
“I believe Callum is a much better fighter than Eubank Jr. and George will have to be better on the night, but I’m very confident that we are going to come away with the win. George has got the experience and I think the experience is going to tell in this fight. Calum has been in this position for a very long time. He has waited for this opportunity so we are expecting the very best Callum Smith.”
Joe Gallagher (Smith coach):
“There’s not much really to be said here. You’ve got the number one and number two seed of the tournament meeting in the final. Everyone is well aware of George Groves. His attempts at World titles and becoming World Champion, for which I think the whole nation in the UK was really pleased for him.
“This is now Callum Smith’s opportunity. His chance to shine, and he’s now got to go take this opportunity with both hands. We’re excited and ready to go, and ready to take care of business on Friday night.”
Wilfried Sauerland (Hall of Fame Promoter):
“For us it is a big day on Friday when we come to the final of the first round of the World Boxing Super Series. We’ve had one final already in Moscow and on Friday it will be the final everybody has been looking forward to in the super middleweight division, one of the strongest divisions in boxing.
“On Friday, we have the two best super middleweights in he world fighting on Friday for this most prestigious trophy and I myself can’t wait to see this fight. That means something when, like me, you have seen thousands of fights. It will be a very special occasion.”
Fans in the UK can watch Groves vs Smith LIVE on ITV Box Office. Ringwalks for the final will be at 9.00 pm UK time. Registration is open at itvboxoffice.com.
Fans in the U.S. can watch LIVE on DAZN, the global sports streaming platform. To sign up for a one-month free trial, fans can visit DAZN.com or download the DAZN app to their preferred connected device.
WBSS Final Preview: George Groves vs. Callum Smith
By: Ste Rowen
This Friday night the super-middleweight World Boxing Super Series champion will be crowned as, ‘Saint’ George Groves goes up against Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith for the WBA ‘Super’ strap, the Muhammad Ali Trophy and, for only the 3rd time in 168lb history, the Ring Magazine title.
Groves 28-3 (20KOs), will finish the tournament as he started it, against English opposition. In the quarter finals, the Hammersmith native folded an unbeaten Jamie Cox in half with a brutal body shot in the 4th round. His next opponent was of course, the smooth talking, high-volume punching, Chris Eubank Jr.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
Groves proved a level above that night as well, inside Manchester Arena, accelerating ahead on the score cards, making a highly touted Eubank, look very basic. Despite George dislocating his shoulder in the championship rounds, he continued to land heavy shots and move well enough to avoid a late onslaught from Jr.
The 30-year-old took a unanimous decision and, speaking in the Super Series’ pre-fight documentary, is now ready to defend his WBA ‘Super’ belt for a third time and claim his place in boxing history as the first super middleweight WBSS champion,
‘‘This will be the pinnacle of my career.’’
‘‘We’re supremely confident about this fight. I’ve had my eye on Callum Smith for years now. He was the favourite before the tournament started so there are a lot of people believe in his abilities to a certain degree. I’m looking forward to proving those people wrong.’’
As mentioned earlier, Groves dislocated his shoulder in the final stages of his action-packed semi-final victory back in February and had to have surgery to properly repair and recover, which pushed the original July date, for the final, back to late September. But the ‘Saint’ promised that he’s back and better than ever now,
‘‘It’s taken an awful lot of work to get it back, far more than I anticipated…We’re doing shoulder specific work but now we’re at the point where there’s nothing we can’t do which is the most important thing.’’
‘‘I am boxing better than ever, and I don’t see Callum posing a threat. I expect another comfortable win.’’
Smith, 24-0 (17KOs) has arguably had a trickier route to the final. He drew the unbeaten Swede, Erik Skoglund, 26-0 at the time, for his Echo Arena quarter final. It was unquestionably ‘Mundo’s’ biggest test to date as Skoglund was unafraid take Smith’s attack and land his own.
It proved costly as in the 11th round, Callum landed a fantastic counter-right hand which wobbled Erik and setup four consecutive punches without reply, forcing the Swede to take a knee. The only blot on that night was the wide scorecards that favoured Smith but didn’t do justice to his opponent’s performance.
It was then onto what was originally a final-four date with Juergen Braehmer but, in fight-week, the German veteran pulled out due to illness. In came the slightly left field injury reserve, former kick boxing world champion and 13-0 (10KOs), Nieky Holzken. The Dutchman, like Skoglund, wasn’t afraid of marching forward, unfortunately it was quite clear early on that Callum wasn’t too concerned with the power Nieky had on offer.
But, yet again Smith was taken the full 12 rounds, this time however, the dominant scorecards in favour of ‘Mundo’, matched the fight in the ring. The youngest of the Smith boxing family clearly recognises the magnitude of Friday’s event,
‘‘Every fight I’ve had so far has been leading to this.’’
‘‘I’ve always felt that when I’ve been up against it and needed to perform, I’ve always delivered and there’s no bigger time to deliver than in the World Boxing Super Series final against George Groves. I know Groves very well, I’ve watched him for a very long time.’’
‘‘He’s (Groves) got good strength, got a good jab, he’s heavy handed. Defensively, I don’t feel he’s the best, and there’s little, slight things I’ve seen over the years I feel I could take advantage of.’’
‘‘I just feel I’m a better fighter than anyone he’s fought in this tournament…I am looking forward to becoming a world champion.’’
Originally intended to be the venue for the cruiserweight final between Usyk and Gassiev, the 10,000-seat capacity arena within the King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah will host the all British super-middleweight bout. It’s first ever boxing event at the ‘Shining Jewel’ complex.
The winner on Friday will join Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward as the only men to claim the super middleweight Ring belt. Boxing this September has very much been the definition of ‘legacy fight’ month.
WBSS Results: Callum Smith Advances with Win over Holzken
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.
WBSS Preview: Callum Smith vs Nieky Holzken
By: Bryant Romero
This Saturday in Nuremberg, Germany, the World Boxing Super Series returns for the second super middleweight semifinal with Callum Smith(23-0, 17 KOs) taking on late replacement Nieky Holzken (13-0, 10 KOs). The winner will advance to the finals of the tournament for the right to challenge WBA super middleweight champion George Groves, who is fresh off his unanimous decision win over Chris Eubank Jr. Smith was originally scheduled to fight veteran German Jurgen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) who was forced to pull out earlier this week due to an infection, which made it impossible for Braehmer to compete fully fit for this Saturday.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series
Smith will now be opposite of the ring of a very confident but unknown challenger in Nieky Holzken who has vowed to the boxing press that he is here to “take over the world boxing super series.” Holzken is a former world champion kick boxer with over 100 fights under his belt as a kick boxer. The Dutchman turned professional as boxer in 2013 and he is coming off an impressive second-round knockout of Viktor Polyakov just three weeks ago. The unbeaten Dutchman had originally been scheduled to face Dmitry Chudinov on the undercard, but will now get the opportunity in what will be seen as a major upset if he can beat the undefeated Callum Smith and advance to the finals of WBSS tournament.
Callum Smith is the number one contender for the WBC title at super middleweight and was on the verge of title shot before deciding to enter the tournament. He signed an agreement to face American Anthony Dirrell for the vacant WBC world title in America for which never occurred. The unbeaten Brit now finds himself in the semifinals of the WBSS tournament and is one win away from a very lucrative showdown and first world title opportunity against George Groves.
The decision to enter the tournament was the smart business move for Callum Smith, but now he finds himself in a tricky situation in dealing with the pullout of his original opponent in Braehmer and having to quickly adjust to a late replacement in Holzken who brings a much different style and fights from the orthodox stance.
The change in opponent, fighting away from home in Germany, the confidence that Holzken is displaying, and the fact that Smith knows nothing about his new opponent could be a recipe of a much more difficult night than expected at the office for Callum Smith. The bookies don’t give the Ducthman a prayer to win the fight, but stranger things have happen in boxing and perhaps we could be in for an interesting fight in this Callum Smith vs Nieky Holzken semifinal showdown.