Feature | Sep 26 2018

LONG READ Callum Smith and his moment of truth

'I’m one step away from being finally able to say I’ve done it, I’ve achieved what I set out to do.' In an exclusive interview Callum Smith speaks to John Dennen
Callum Smith
George Groves & Callum Smith Public Work-Outs  |  Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

BOXING finds a way to salt your wounds. Callum Smith sits in high up in the stands in Trabzon, a small backwater on the shore of the Black Sea in Turkey. It’s 2012 and everything he has worked for is bleeding away.

Only recently Smith was a welterweight. For this Olympic qualifying event he’s leapt up to light-heavy. He boxed well, his speed telling, his chin standing up to the odd punch he shipped. He needed to reach the final to book his place at the London Games. One win away, he was outboxing Azerbaijan’s Vatan Huseynli. He timed his shots, his left hook thudded him. Not enough to knock the Azeri down but these were scoring shots. Or they should have been. The judges somehow conspired to have Huseynli a win by two points.

Smith had no luck. He sits in the stands the next day, watching below the final that should have been his. If he finishes third in this tournament, if, that is, Huseynli wins this bout, Smith would still have been qualified for London 2012. The Azeri instead goes through the motions. Callum knows exactly what he is watching, his face, even at light-heavyweight, hollow under the lights of the arena. Huseynli hands a lightly contested win to the Turkish boxer he’s facing and with it Smith’s hope of going to London 2012 is swept away. He is robbed twice over.


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