ACCORDING to reports, Callum Smith’s next fight will be against a British opponent, but that opponent won’t be Billy Joe Saunders or Chris Eubank Jnr.
Instead, it seems likely Smith will defend his WBA super-middleweight title against John Ryder, a southpaw from Islington who has earned his chance by beating undefeated fighters Bilal Akkawy and Andrey Sirotkin in his last two fights.
That’s not a bad fight by any means, yet still fans would rather see Smith involved in bigger fights against either fellow world champions or fellow Brits with greater profiles. Ideally, if given the choice, they would see him fight Saunders, the WBO champion at super-middleweight who has just signed for Matchroom Boxing.
“It’s a big fight because of what’s at stake,” Smith told Sky Sports. “It’s very rare in British boxing that you have two fighters who are both undefeated and who are both world champions.
“Saunders being with Matchroom now obviously makes this fight easier to make and, if we can both get through our next fights, then I think a fight next April or May with everything on the line is brilliant for boxing over here.
“I still think he’s a middleweight if I’m being honest, but he’s done well to win a world title at super-middle, which means a fight between us means a lot more.”
If it’s not Saunders, perhaps a fight against Eubank Jnr could be the breakout night Smith needs. Though the Brighton man has lost to George Groves, the champion Smith dethroned to win his current belt, he would certainly bring the attention the Liverpudlian has so far been without and, stylistically, the pair appear well suited.
“It’s a fight that you can’t really get away from and I think it’s something that has to happen somewhere down the line,” Smith said. “Eubank might not have a world title, or might not even be as highly-rated as other fighters in the division, but there’s no denying that he’s a big name, and he’s done really well to get himself to where he has.
“I think he’s a great fighter if you stand in front of him and have it with him, but he’s shown weaknesses to good boxers on more than one occasion and I’d be confident of having enough to get the job done.”
If logic prevails, there should be no reason why Smith can’t fight Ryder, Eubank Jnr and Saunders within the next 12 months. Manage that, and remain undefeated, and there’s every chance Smith then becomes the star many people feel he should be already.
Despite the hype, the talk and the showmanship, Tyson Fury’s September 14 fight against Otto Wallin at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas failed to draw any sort of crowd.
In fact, just 3,577 tickets were sold for the fight, which represents 18% of the venue’s 20,000 capacity, while a further 3,898 tickets were given away for free. This brought the final attendance to 7,475, a paltry number when set against the 16,758 attendance Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs attracted at the same venue in May.
This will surely disappoint Fury and his handlers, especially when the drive for him to break American has been so strong and his deal with ESPN is contingent on his charisma, popularity and widespread appeal. However, as entertaining as ‘The Gypsy King’ can be outside the ring, his fights don’t always catch fire once the first bell rings and, moreover, few would have expected Otto Wallin to be as sturdy and determined as he was a fortnight ago.
The big surprise was Wallin, therefore, not the lack of interest in what seemed a routine and low-key fight.