In the midst of it, got back in after Christmas, had a bit of a break over Christmas and then got back in, the fight’s been announced now, it took me a couple of weeks to tick over but it’s the same as where I left off at the end of the year now. It’s getting harder and harder as the weeks go on but I’m getting fitter and fitter as the weeks go on. So I’m enjoying it.
What do you think of Hadillah Mohoumadi?
I’ve seen bits of him, I know stylistically what he’s like. I think Joe [Gallagher, his trainer] has watched a lot more. I’ll gradually watch a few different fights of him. From what I’ve seen he’s a good fighter, he’s an improved fighter over recent years, he’s on a good run of knockouts and he’s European champion. His record suggests he’s heavy handed and he fights with a good workrate. He should cause some problems that I’ll have to solve. But I feel I’m good enough to become a world champion and should be good enough to beat Mohoumadi on April 2.
How pleased are you, you’ve just won the British title but you’re fighting for the European title in your next fight?
Towards the end of the year I heard that I was mandatory for the European. I knew I wanted to go that route, it’s a good title and it’s one we haven’t won in the family. It would be nice to the first to win something for a change. But it is a natural step after the British title, European then world. Too many people jump from the British title to the world title and don’t realise how big the gap is in class from domestic level. [Christopher] Rebrasse was a former European champion, I beat him and it’ll be good to, hopefully, beat the European champion. Win that title and then look to push on from there. Then the plan is hopefully to become a world champion but I feel I’m doing it the right way, taking it step by step.
So will this be the first title (amateur or pro) that one of your brothers hasn’t won before you?
I think it is the first one. I thought I’d have that when I went to the Olympics, I thought I’d be the first one to do that [Smith lost a highly controversial decision in the last qualifier]. But other than that everything I’ve done, Commonwealth Games medal, Junior ABAs, English title, British title, someone’s already done it before. So it’ll be nice to win the European and I’ll be the first to do something.
So finally you’ll be stepping out of your brothers’ shadow.
Yes, every time I take a belt to see someone, ‘That’s the same as the one Paul won’ or ‘that’s the same as the one Stephen won’, everyone’s already seen the other belts I bring home. It’ll be good to bring one that no one’s seen before back.
Looking back on the Rocky Fielding fight, that ended so quickly, did it all go in a blur?
Very satisfying. It did go quite quick. The fight was announced about 14 weeks before it happened and obviously we were in negotiations for a few weeks before that. I kind of had Rocky Fielding on the brain for a long time. In and around the city, everywhere I went, I’d go for a walk of a night, to buy a few bottles of water and someone would ask about the fight. I’d be putting petrol in, getting my hair cut, everywhere I went, people were talking about it, it was two Scousers. To have it constantly on my mind, 24-7, for that long, for it then to be over in two and a half minutes, it was a bit weird but it was very satisfying to do it the way I did. I always believed I could take him out like that. Realistically I didn’t think it would be that early but I always knew I could get the win inside the distance. But I couldn’t have written it any better to be honest.
Was there then a lot of pressure on you beforehand?
The fight before that, Rebrasse, was just as important to me personally. If I lost that, it would set me back, the same way a loss to Rocky Fielding would. My aim is to keep winning, remain unbeaten and end up with a world title. So every fight is important but there was a bit more added, the fact that everyone knew him and if I was to lose to anyone, Rocky Fielding would be the last person I wanted to lose to because everywhere I go I’d be reminded of it in Liverpool. My fight’s been announced now and Rocky’s on the undercard and I wouldn’t have liked that to have been the other way round, my next fight on one of his undercards and stuff, so there was that added pressure. But I feel I’ve learned to cope with it and thrive off pressure and feel I perform better when I’m under pressure.
Any danger of relaxing for this next fight?
Not at all. When the fight was announced a lot of people said easy night because he lost to [James] DeGale and stuff. I feel he gave DeGale a tough night, even though it wasn’t the best of DeGale, I think it was when he had that groin problem and stood on the ropes to much. I do feel he’s improved since then as well. Stylistically I think he’s a tough night for anyone. It looks like he’s got a good chin, he’s heavy-handed and he works hard. I do feel I’m in for a tough night and if I’m not at my best there could be a slip up. But I never get complacent. I think in pro boxing it’s shown that anyone could beat anyone on a bad night. As long as I work hard with Joe, I’m sure he’ll come up with a good gameplan and as long as I listen I’m sure I should get a win and I’m confident I can look good doing it.
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