By Elliot Foster (@FreelanceFoz)
Callum Smith has world titles in his sights after racing to the number one-ranked super middleweight around the globe, but he is focused on the immediate challenge at hand.
The 25-year-old Liverpudlian will go into what is being billed as the toughest test of his career in just under a fortnight’s time, live on Sky Sports.
Smith, 17-0 (12), is set to defend his WBC Silver title –– and number one ranking with the Mexico-based governing body –– against city rival Rocky Fielding on November 7 at the ECHO Arena, with the pair also contesting the vacant British super middleweight crown.
And the top-of-the-bill clash, being billed ‘Who’s Fooling Who?’ by promotional company Matchroom Sport, is one that Smith believes he’ll come out victorious in.
“Training’s going well and I’ve just finished all the hard stuff as we’re tapering off, but it was really hard because I stepped up each week as my rounds stepped up,” said Smith, who is two years Fielding’s junior.
“I enjoyed it, as much as it was hard, and we’re working on things, me and [trainer] Joe [Gallagher], which are the same regardless of whether it was Rocky Fielding I was fighting or not.
“I aim to improve every camp and if I’m not doing that then I’m not doing my job right, but we’ve been working on things I feel I need to improve on, things that I believe will make me a better fighter come fight night.
“It’s Rocky Fielding in the other corner, so he’ll be on the receiving end of it, but I’ve enjoyed [my training] and I’m looking forward to [the fight].
The venue is set for a capacity crowd sell-out of 10,000, with just over 200 tickets remaining, but Smith believes nerves will be at the back of his mind and it’s excitement, rather than pressure, that will be at the forefront of consciousness both in the crowd and himself on the night.
“I’m excited because it’s a big fight for the city and it’s one I’m 100 per cent confident I’ll win and I genuinely believe I’ll look good in doing so.
“[The fact that Rocky Fielding is in the opposite corner] has had a mixed effect on my training. It’s kind of spurred me on but, like I’ve always said, it’s just another fight I’ve got to win to progress ad to continue on the path that I’m on to become a world champion.”
The mere mention of becoming a world champion is something that the placid, laidback Smith –– the youngest of the four fighting brothers –– has had to carry with him since his early days in the paid ranks.
There was a real buzz surrounding the Commonwealth Games silver medallist following devastating stoppage wins like that over Kirill Psonko, Ruslan Pojonisevs and Patrick Mendy.
But nearly three years after leaving behind the headguard and vest of Team GB and before them Rotunda ABC, Smith is still confident that his destiny is to have a global trinket around his waist in the not too distant future.
“I was impressed with [WBC champion, Badou] Jack [in his win over George Groves] last month,” said Smith.
“A lot of people underrate him, but credit to Groves. He came back from the first round knockdown in a good fight, although there was only one winner; I thought Jack had it comfortable.
“I’m ranked highly with the WBC and that’s a title that I want, so Jack is in my eyes in the future.
“Where George Groves goes is up to him; it depends on him what he wants to do. He’s made a lot of money out of boxing, so if he wants to carry on he doesn’t have to. But he’s had three shots at a world title [losing the previous two challenges to Carl Froch by stoppage in November, 2013 and May, 2014 respectively] and I think he probably still believes he can become [a world champion].
“There are a lot of good fights out there for him, myself included.”
But while Smith –– who now holds the WBC’s premier position behind aforementioned champion Jack following his win over Groves –– has thrown his name into the hat as a potential opponent for the 27-year-old, the Scouser’s focus is on his closest domestic and geographical rival as the commencement of battle draws near.
“The Groves fight is good for me and is a potential one for the future,” Smith stated, “but the Rocky Fielding [fight] is my aim, my focus and because he’s a local, I hear of his name more than any other opponent.
“It’s a fight I want to get out the way and shut a lot of people up, the people talking about the fight.
“I know I’m the better fighter and I’ll prove it on the night.”by