Groves suffered a dislocated left shoulder at the end of his semi-final with Chris Eubank Jnr. By the time Smith fights him, Callum is not anticipating Groves to be suffering any lingering aftereffects. “I’ve got to expect the best George Groves. I expect the best version of him for the big occasion. I believe he’ll need to be at his best as well,” Smith told Boxing News. “I don’t really know the extent of his injury, how bad it was or how long it could take but I don’t feel he’d fight if he was 100%. He’s a champion, he’s in the driving seat. I don’t think he’d rush back just to please me or please the tournament. The fact that he’s saying he’s ready, I do feel that he’s on track.”
Smith has of course been studying Groves closely. “I’ve watched his career and I’d like to think I know a lot about George Groves. He’s a world champion and he’s got what I want. I’ve got the utmost respect for him. But I don’t fear him. I know he’s got very good strengths but I feel he’s got massive vulnerabilities as well. I’ll bring my own ability and my own strengths,” he said. “My style’s all wrong for him. He’ll tell you the same, vice versa. That’s what makes it a good fight.”
His injury apart, Groves put in a consummate performance against Eubank Jnr. In contrast Smith did not emerge from him semi-final with glowing praise. He had to deal with a very late change of opponent. Juergen Braehmer dropped out and in the week of the fight Smith arrived in Germany to find Nieky Holzken was his new opposition. A former kickboxer, Smith was expected to dispatch him with ease. Holzken however managed to take him 12 rounds.
But Callum describes this fight as the most pressurised of his career. “I knew I had so much to lose,” Smith told Boxing News. “The pressure just multiplied. I was just thinking if I knock him out in one round, I don’t get any credit.
“I just got in and thought a win’s a win regardless.”
“For what was at stake. Every other fight, apart from the [Erik] Skoglund one, you win and you move on. I knew what would come next after this fight and I knew what potentially wouldn’t come next if I slip up. I’m a realist and I do know anything can happen in boxing,” he continued. “It was more a case of get the win and get that fight against George Groves. It wasn’t the best of performances but it was a win. I had no injuries or anything and I can look forward to the big one, the final and I can’t wait for it.”
He promises his performance against Groves will be of a different order. “The final when I’m fighting George Groves I’ll have to be a bit more exciting, perform better,” Smith said.
“I know I’ll have to be better but I know I’ve got that in my locker.”