THE last time Callum Smith boxed in the United States, it was in an early-career six-rounder down the bill in Carson, California. He flattened Abraham Hernandez in one round on the show topped by Kell Brook beating Shawn Porter. In the intervening five years, the man from Liverpool has become the world’s leading super-middleweight for many (including this publication), winning the World Boxing Super Series tournament in September with a spectacular knockout of George Groves.
Now “Mundo” has his second USA bout on a much bigger stage than the first – he’s in the chief support to Joshua-Ruiz at the famed Madison Square Garden, defending his WBA belt for the first time against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. Smith, 25-0 (18), is tall for the weight at 6ft 3ins and it would be no surprise if he moved up to light-heavy at some point. There’s also talk of a match with pound-for-pound star Canelo Alvarez, so Callum can’t afford any slip-ups this weekend.
N’Jikam looks a good choice of opponent. The Cameroon-born Frenchman has held the WBO strap at middleweight and at 35 is an experienced campaigner with a 37-3 (21) record. But this is his first title tilt at 168lbs, and don’t forget he scaled 2 1/2lbs inside the middleweight limit when beating Martin Murray on a majority decision in December. And while only Ryota Murata has beaten him inside the distance – on a seventh-round retirement to avenge a dubious split loss – Hassan has also suffered plenty of knockdowns in points defeats: six against Peter Quillin and four against David Lemieux.