Boxing Only

Callum Smith needs a big name opponent

WBA Super world super-middleweight champion Callum Smith
WBA Super world super-middleweight champion Callum Smith
Posted: 20-09-2019
Author: Andy Farr

Liverpool's Callum Smith was on top of the world when he scored the biggest win of his career and in the process became the Inaugural World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) super-middleweight champion. The September 2018 7th round knockout of Londoner George Groves propelled the highly ranked prospect to not only the holder of the WBSS Muhammad Ali trophy but also the new WBA super 168lb champion.

The event was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and shown all over the world, and for the 6ft 3In Smith this was the break-out win that took him into the elite level bracket.

But after a break from the sport that saw the birth of his first child, Smith didn't get the big offers that he expected and he didn't defend his new WBA title until June 2019 when he scored a straight forward 3rd round knockout of Frenchman and former middleweight champion Hassam N'dam on the undercard of Joshua Vs Ruiz Jr at New Yorks Iconic Madison Square Garden.

Big names were mentioned as possible opponents but nothing came of any of them. Canelo Alvarez, Daniel Jacobs, Sergey Kovalev, and Billy Joe Saunders would all have been massive fights that might have resulted in a sellout show at Liverpool's Anfield football club.

The super-middleweight landscape altered when Saunders announced that he had left long-time promoter Frank Warren and signed with Smith's promoter Matchroom Boxing, leaving the way open to a huge all British unification bout. But when Matchroom's Eddie Hearn announced that the fight needed to be built up and would not take place until the middle of 2020 Smith was left with no fight yet again and the feeling that the prime of his boxing career was passing by with no progression.

Rumours that Billy Joe Saunders would be fighting a big name opponent on the November 9th KSI Vs Logan Paul card at the Stables Center in Los Angeles brought about news that Smith's manager and trainer Joe Gallagher was listening to offers from other promotional outfits as he felt Smith was being overlooked in favour of Saunders.

Now that Canelo is fighting Kovalev on November 2nd Smith's options have shortened considerably, so who could he face to raise his profile?

At super-middleweight, Smith's only option lies with Saunders as the other champions Anthony Dirrell (WBC) and Caleb Plant (IBF) are both fighting under the Premier Boxing Champions promotional banner along with former WBC champion David Benavidez who challenges Dirrell on September 28th.

A move up to the 175lb Light-heavyweight division has always been spoken about for Callum who is one of the four boxing Smith brothers (Paul, Liam, Stephen, and Callum). At 6ft 3In the weight wouldn't be a problem but only WBA champion Dimitry Bivol would be available. Bivol is scheduled to defend his title on October 12th at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago on the same card as former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk's heavyweight debut bout against Tyrone Spong, which is promoted by Matchroom. This would be a great match and would propel the winner onto bigger things.

Bivol's opponent hasn't been announced for the October date so there is still the possibility of the fight happening but surely Hearn would insist on a much bigger build-up to a fight between to unbeaten titleholders.

Only time will tell what is next for Smith but he needs a big name opponent before this year is over or his career will be in decline.