DALTON SMITH will be looking to build on an impressive victory in his last outing, as he enters the ring for the third time in the pro ranks on the undercard of Vasyl Lomachenko and Luke Campbell’s world lightweight unification clash at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Sheffield prospect picked up a British boxing rarity in July, on his last appearance on Sky Sports Box Office, as he became just the fourth man to stop the vastly experienced Ibrar Riyaz, and the first since 2013, also at the O2 Arena.
Although not a highly regarded accolade by any stretch of the imagination, it was a glimpse into the potential Smith has and the decorated former amateur star knows that it is a win that will provide him with confidence that he can deliver on the hype that has followed since he turned over earlier this year.
Smith told Boxing News: “It’s my third outing in a couple of months, so I’m staying active which is so important at this stage. It’ll be my second fight at the O2 and it’s another massive card, which was a major factor for me signing with Matchroom. They’re one of the biggest promoters out there and it’s giving me a chance to develop on these big shows so I’ll be set up for the future when it’s my turn.
“Riyaz is a real veteran, who has been in with everyone at some stage of their career in the UK. You just have to look through his record and it’s like a who’s who of boxing. When I was in the corner with my dad he just said to me to not go looking for it, as I probably won’t get him out, so I was relaxed and it all just came together.
“On my debut there were obviously a lot more nerves and some more tension, whereas last time, I didn’t have those problems. I did build into it slowly on my debut and by the end I was performing how I wanted to and I just carried it on to the Riyaz fight, where I really showed my quality.
“He is exactly the sort of fighter that any young fighter needs when they are turning over. People look at their records and ask why your fighting them which is just part and parcel of boxing now. But, he’s the sort of test you need on the way up, as it helps you develop and if he wants too, he can drag you into a bit of a war.”
Backing Dalton all the way, he hopes, to the top will be his father and trainer Grant, who has recently earned major recognition as the trainer of WBC flyweight champion Charlie Edwards, who also defends his title on Saturday, and has subsequently been nominated for Boxing News Trainer of the Year at the British Boxing Board of Control awards.
Grant is obviously more aware than most of the potential his son possesses, but is careful to not to rush Dalton, who will be testing himself over six rounds on Saturday.
He explained: “Dalton will be on early doors, probably one of the social media fights, so we can keep him away from Charlie and give them both the right amount of time before their fights. Against Riyaz like he said he was relaxed so because of that he let his hands go. Ibrar was a late replacement who came in at very short notice, so I take my hat off to him and we’re grateful as a team to him, as the original opponent changed his mind the day before.
“After the fight, he came in the dressing room to speak to us all and said, ‘In around 170 odd fights that was the first time that I have legitimately been stopped. In my other stoppage losses, I wasn’t stopped and it was down to the referee jumping in.’ So for him to say that was a nice gesture and a good boost for Dalton.
“The potential is there, but he’s only 22 so there is absolutely no reason to rush him. So it’ll be done nice and steady with plenty of fights to keep him active and happy, so that when he gets in there his skills will shine through. Six rounds will suit him and we wanted to go up to six in the last fight, but Eddie Hearn told him it would be easier to get him a TV slot with a four rounder.”
Dalton was expected to be potentially pushing for a spot in the Team GB squad at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year. However, when the confirmation came through that the weight limits were changing he became one of the unfortunate fighters who would have been trapped between weights.
He made the decision to turn pro and has been fortunate enough to experience big nights first hand, in particular seeing his stablemate Edwards pull off a surprise result to claim the WBC title from Cristofer Rosales at the same venue where both will step between the ropes on Saturday.
Dalton has now set his sights on more fights on world title bills and possibly a couple of stops across the pond, as part of Matchroom’s US odyssey. “Fighting at the O2 last time was everything I wanted it to be and more. I remember when I was in the corner when Charlie Edwards won his world title and I kept looking around thinking that I want to be fighting in here one day. Fast forward less than a year and I’ll be doing it for a second time,” he said. “I’ll carry on fighting in more six rounders to finish off this year and get as many fights as I can under my belt. Including this one, I’m wanting to have five by Christmas and then we can move up to eight rounds next year and keep showing what I can do on the big stage, possibly on Charlie’s undercards or maybe on one of the Matchroom bills in the States.”