CALLUM SMITH plans to box before the end of the season as he seeks out more durable opponents ahead of a WBC world super-middleweight title shot.
The unbeaten Liverpudlian became mandatory challenger to the title Badou Jack defends against Lucian Bute this weekend when he demolished Hadillah Mohoumadi inside a round on April 2.
The plan is for the Jack-Bute winner to face the victor of James DeGale’s IBF title defence against Rogelio Medina in September, meaning Smith may need to wait for his chance.
“We’ll see how things play out but I’ve told him to stay in the gym, because you never know how things play out,” Smith’s trainer, Joe Gallagher, told Boxing News.
“If Bute knocks Badou Jack out, will Bute v James DeGale really happen? We don’t really know. Obviously, it would then be Callum Smith against Lucian Bute for the WBC title.
“We’ll just have to see how the land lies, obviously if Jack wins we may get frozen out for a bit. In the meantime Callum’s just got to tick over, and be ready if the opportunity to fight comes whether it be at Goodison [Park, mooted for May 29] or on the [Anthony] Joshua bill [at the O2 Arena on June 25], or anywhere else. It may be a trip to America.”
Prior to his win over Mohoumadi, Smith blitzed local rival Rocky Fielding in the first stanza back in November, having dominated tough Frenchman Christopher Rebrasse over 12 last June.
Nikola Sjekloca also took Smith the 12 round distance in 2011 and both Callum and Gallagher are eager to find another decent-level opponent to keep him sharp.
“He’s only had two rounds in the past year or so and I would like to get Callum another fight before the season ends but let’s make sure we don’t jeopardise our world title fight at the same time,” Gallagher said.
“The fights with Sjekloca and Rebrasse came at the right time, he needed those fights to put the brakes on and give him rounds. That’s the type of opponent we’re looking for now, someone who’ll give him rounds.”
Three-time world title challenger George Groves has been vocal about his interest in fighting Smith, in part due to Callum’s lofty world ranking. Groves was recently made mandatory challenger to Smith’s European title, but has also just announced a fascinating fight with Martin Murray on June 25.
Gallagher was dismissive of Groves, and played down the chances of his man taking on the Londoner in the near future.
“George Groves is desperate, isn’t he? George Groves-Martin Murray is a very good fight,” he said.
“Groves is the mandatory for the European belt, but Callum can still have a voluntary so that won’t happen anytime soon. I think George Groves is pushing, just trying to keep his name out there.
“A fight with Murray is a very good fight, a very good trade fight.”
Smith will travel to Washington to be ringside for Jack-Bute and DeGale-Medina at the DC Armory this weekend. He was also in the States to watch brother Stephen Smith unsuccessfully challenge for Jose Pedraza’s IBF world super-featherweight title a couple of weeks ago.
Gallagher revealed that while across the pond, Smith was approached by several interested parties – a sign that his stock is certainly on the rise.
He said: “When we were over there, commissioners, TV people, a guy from HBO were all coming over talking to Callum, [Stephen] Espinoza as well. It was really weird, Callum was like ‘wow’. A WBC official came over to us as well, and Liam [Callum’s brother, and WBO world super-welterweight champion] too. They’re really excited by Liam and Callum.”