ON THE RISE: CALLUM SMITH

ON THE RISE: CALLUM SMITH

Welcome to a new weekly segment called ‘On The Rise’ where I profile up and coming British talents including things such as interviews, videos, quotes, future opponents and much more.

Today we start with a young Liverpudlian super middleweight called Callum Smith. The 25 year old is the youngest of 4 brothers, Paul, Stephen and Liam who are all also professional boxers. Callum boasts a record of 18-0-0 winning 13 by knockout, but Im going to start from the beginning at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Smith boxed in the welterweight division and won a silver medal after a defeat to Patrick Gallagher in the final, but he used this small triumph, despite defeat, to motivate himself and to challenge himself further in the boxing world.

Smith had to overcome another cruel disappointment 2 years after the commonwealth games in an attempt to qualify for the 2012 olympic games at light-heavyweight. At the final qualifying tournament, Smith lost 16:14 to Vatan Huseynli where a win would have sealed his place in the GB team for the 2012 olympics. Despite this, Smith still had a chance to qualify for one of the 3 places as the semi-finalist who lost to the eventual winner would qualify, but Huseynli lost to Bahram Muzaffer meaning Smith couldn’t qualify for a place. Controversially, the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) decided they could include an invitational place at the tournament, Smith was shortlisted but the place was given too someone Smith had beaten previously in a very convincing fashion, Bosko Draskovic.

The young now super-middleweight didn’t let this disappointment deter him from going into professional boxing training under the same man as his siblings, Joe Gallagher, who also trains former world champion Scott Quigg.

Smith made his professional debut in late 2012 on the undercard of Carl Froch v Yusaf Mack, winning the bout on points after 4 rounds. ‘Mundo’ continued to beat whoever was in his way, often fighting on undercards of other top British fighters such as world champion Carl Frampton, former world champion Carl Froch and current super-middleweight contender George Groves. Callum Smith has openly said he would love to fight against the likes of Froch and Groves after seeing them sell out Wembley Stadium in what was their second world title fight.

Callum faced his most difficult test to date in late 2015 against rival super-middleweight Rocky Fielding. Many predicted this would be a close fight, which was for the British title and would spark a rivalry for many years to come but ‘Mundo’ won via TKO in the first round, cementing his place as the top British super-middleweight on the rise.

Now in 2016, Smith is ranked No.1 with the WBC and faces Hadillah Mohoumadi in an eliminator for Badou Jack’s WBC world title. The fight which takes place this Saturday in Liverpool will hopefully see the young man show his qualities and beat Mohoumadi, a man who has previously lost to James DeGale, another British world champion. Should Callum win, it will hopefully set up a bout with the Swede Jack who in his last fight beat Smith’s domestic rival George Groves via split decision at the MGM Grand.

Should Smith win the WBC world super-middleweight title later this year or in early 2017, it would set up the potential for huge domestic clashes against the likes of IBF champion James DeGale or previous WBC contender Groves.

Callum spoke to The Guardian in 2014 about the possibility of future fights with domestic rivals.

“I’d like to win a British title this year and once I’ve done that then I’ll move past domestic level and move towards the likes of Froch, Groves and [James] DeGale.

“This time next year Froch will probably be retired but Groves and DeGale are only young and will still be at world level by the time I get there. At the stage I’m at in my career I’m doing exactly the same as what they did, if not better.” – Callum Smith, 2014

Despite the fact Froch has retired, Groves and DeGale are at world level even if one can never seem to get over the final hurdle. The future is bright for young Callum Smith and he has plenty of opportunities providing he boxes smart and takes his chance when he gets his title fight.

I’ll leave you with a video of Smith’s first round knockout of Patrick Mendy (definitely not because i can’t find a video of him knocking out Rocky Fielding) in what was his 8th professional fight, which really showcases the power this young British super-middleweight has, even if it was 3 years ago in 2013.

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WHO DOES BROOK FIGHT NEXT?

WHO DOES BROOK FIGHT NEXT?

On Saturday night, IBF world welterweight champion Kell Brook knocked out mandatory challenger Kevin Bizier inside 2 rounds at the Sheffield Arena, making both him and my prediction (6th round k.o) look silly. It was a clinical performance from the 29 year old Brit, who was making his 3rd defence of his IBF world title, but who should he fight next? That is the question everyone wants to know the answer too and I’m going to evaluate Kell’s next step and who he should target next.

‘The Special One’ is undoubtably one of the best, if not the best pound-for-pound British boxer, alongside talents such as Tyson Fury and Carl Frampton, of course. Trying to guess who Kell Brook will fight next is a near on impossible task due to the amount of potential options he has, he could even move up in weight just like domestic rival Amir Khan has done.

So who’s it going to be? The winner of Bradley v Pacquiao? WBC world champion Danny Garica? Lets evaluate his options…

Timothy Bradley

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Boxing legend and former world champion Manny Pacquiao will fight another former world champion in Timothy Bradley in what will be their deciding 3rd fight in a trilogy that has seen both men lose. The fight which takes place on April 9th, coincidently the same night that will hopefully see Anthony Joshua become IBF world heavyweight champion, will probably be Pac-man’s last fight as he has set his retirement to pursue a more politically motivated career. On the other hand though 32 year old American Bradley, who’s only career defeat so far was his rematch with Pacquiao, is at the top of the welterweight division and is one of the best in the division not to be holding a world title. Brook would love to share a ring with Bradley, a fighter who Eddie Hearn believes would come and fight here in the UK, and it would be a top boxing scalp to claim if Brook could beat him.

Hearn recently talked to Sky Sports about Kell possibly fighting Bradley

“The Bradley fight is one I’ve always thought could happen for Kell Brook, I think he’s one of the elite fighters in the world that would travel.” – Eddie Hearn

With Bradley being the most likely next opponent for Brook win or lose v Pacquiao, it would be a great name to add to his list if he could beat Bradley and would hopefully open up more opportunities within the welterweight division.

Danny Garcia

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The undefeated American who holds the WBC belt, one in which Brook was recently quoted saying he would “love”, is a potential option for Brook if he is aiming to unify the welterweight division. Garcia has knocked out a man who Brook has been targeting for years in Amir Khan and is considered to be Khan’s bogeyman, someone who people think would beat Khan every time he shared a ring with him. In January, Garcia beat former 2 weight world champion in Robert Guerrero to claim the WBC belt at the staples centre in LA. Eddie Hearn believes Garcia wouldn’t like to fight Brook and wouldn’t leave the US to make the fight happen, with only 2 of his 32 fights happening outside of the US.

Keith Thurman

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Keith Thurman is a man on the rise within the boxing world, defeating people such as Leonard Bundu, Robert Guerrero and Luis Collazo on his way to a perfect 26-0-0 record. The 27 year old American currently holds the WBA welterweight title making 2 successful defences since his version of the WBA belt became regular rather than interim after a unanimous decision win over Robert Guerrero in 2015. Thurman was scheduled to defend his belt against Shawn Porter, the man who lost his IBF belt to Kell Brook, in March 2016 but injury has pushed the fight back later into the year meaning a potential fight with Brook in July is off the cards. However, a unification bout later in the year or in 2017 is definitely being talked about providing Thurman can ward off any challengers and Brook can continue punching his was through the welterweight division. For the fight to happen, it might require Brook to travel to the US but, as we saw in the fight against Shawn Porter, Kell can definitely handle any pressure away from home.

Jessie Vargas

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The last of the 3 Americans currently holding a welterweight world title is Jessie Vargas. The 26 year old, boasting a record of 27-1-0, is the youngest of the 4 belt holders in the division with his only career defeat so far coming against Timothy Bradley for the interim WBO welterweight title in 2015. The young American has not really been challenged in his career so far, fighting people of a lower standard with the exception of Timothy Bradley. Vargas knocked out a fellow American, Sadam Ali for the vacant WBO belt earlier this month in a very convincing fashion. Despite Vargas not being that big of a name in the boxing world, he is a world title holder and Brook should be wanting to unify the division in any way possible. If Brook was to fight Vargas, it would not be that big of a fight state side, and it would be a fight many would expect Brook to win convincingly.

Move Up In Weight

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Kell Brook also has the option to move up in weight like rival Amir Khan has done, to middleweight. This has been talked about a lot by Brook himself and Eddie Hearn but is probably more of a move he would make in the future because he wouldn’t want to give up his IBF welterweight belt. A potential opponent he could face and a big name in boxing would be former middleweight world champion Miguel Cotto, who in his last fight lost to Saul Alvarez by unanimous decision. The Puerto Rican boxer who has a 40-5-0 record has shared a ring with some of boxings biggest talents, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. He would be a big name for Brook in a fight that would undoubtably draw massive attention across the world. The only problem with this fight for Brook is the lack of a world title on the line.

In the video below, Eddie Hearn, Kell Brook and Dominic Ingle (Brook’s trainer) discuss Kell’s future in a press conference.

Whilst it remains to be seen who Kell Brook will be fighting next, options are starting to appear and hopefully in the near future, he will be able to unify the division.

KELL BROOK V KEVIN BIZIER PREVIEW & PREDICTION

KELL BROOK V KEVIN BIZIER PREVIEW & PREDICTION

Tonight Kell Brook will defend his IBF World Welterweight title against mandatory challenger, Canadian Kevin Bizier at the Sheffield Arena. Brook (35-0-0) will make his third defence of the belt he took from Shawn Porter in 2014 against a relatively unknown opponent in Kevin Bizier (25-2-0).

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‘The Special One’ has been continuously frustrated with the lack of big names willing to fight the current IBF champion with, as we all know, Amir Khan constantly ducking out of possibly arranging a bout between the 2 Brits despite a big pay day and a world title on the line. Brook is now looking past Khan as the former light-welterweight champion has opted to move up in weight to take on Saul Alvarez.

Eddie Hearn has mentioned a possible fight with the winner of Manny Pacquiao v Timothy Bradley despite neither being current title holders, whilst pundits are suggesting Brook and WBC welterweight champion Danny Garcia, who beat Khan, should both share a ring.

Despite Brook’s continuous frustrations and the big names being talked about as possible future opponents, he must not look past Bizier who will hope to be a potential banana skin in The Special One’s plans.

“Kell is a great fighter, he’s the complete package. He’s fast, strong, he punches hard, he’s got good ring IQ, but we’re coming here with a game plan and I am confident that I can take his title.” – Kevin Bizier

Little is known about Bizier if you’re not really deeply into boxing as he has hardly set the world alight losing 2 of his 27 bouts, both times against one of Kell’s previous challengers Jo Jo Dan, who won via split decision on both occasions. Dan’s team threw in the towel against a dominant Brook in just the 4th round, which makes Bizier’s chances look bleak to say the least. However, don’t expect Brook to get the k.o early on as it remains to be seen whether he is solely focussed on beating Bizier or if he has his eye on future opponents.

Brook is one of my favourite boxers due to being well rounded in all aspects of his game, he is confident and he is a current world champion boasting an exceptional 35-0 record. I hope he can remain focussed on getting the job done tonight and moving on quickly to discussing potential fights against bigger names or other title holders in the welterweight division. I think Brook will Win by K.O in the 6th.

DAVID HAYE IN WORLD TITLE FIGHT TALKS

DAVID HAYE IN WORLD TITLE FIGHT TALKS

Former WBA world heavyweight champion David Haye is in talks with the current WBA champion Lucas Browne over a possible world title fight later this year.

Haye is hoping to claim back the belt he won in 2009 before losing it in 2011 to Wladimir Klitschko. His potential opponent, Lucas Browne is currently promoted by Ricky Hatton, the former welterweight world champion and at the age of 36 is unbeaten in 24 fights, winning 21 by knockout.

The burly Australian went into his fight against Ruslan Chagaev with an outside chance of beating the Russian but Browne stopped Chagaev in the 10th round to become the first Australian to win a version of the world heavyweight championship.

Haye recently spoke to sportsviewlondon.com about presenting an “interesting package” to Browne.

“I am trying to come up with something that makes everybody happy, particularly Browne, I will hopefully present something to you this week. If it’s no good, then you can go and fight Fres Oquendo and earn what you’re going to earn.”

Browne is set to make his first title defence against Fres Oquendo but Haye is hoping the big Australian will opt to fight himself instead in a bout which will offer more money to both fighters in a potentially appealing arena.

With Lucas Browne still trying to make a name for himself despite being a world heavyweight title holder, it remains to be seen whether he will take the easier fight or take on former world champion David Haye.

ROUND 1

Hello, my name is Leigh Briars and welcome to 12 Rounds UK, a blog focussing on British Boxing. I currently study Football, Business & Media at UCFB Wembley and hope to post some interesting stories such as the latest news, opinion pieces and a variety of other segments surrounding the current British boxing scene.

Despite being a football fan (as I probably should be to study it), boxing has always caught my attention as one of the more interesting and exciting sports around, especially as we produce many top quality fighters in a variety of different weight classes as well as world title holders. At the time of posting this, Britain currently has 11 different world champions holding 13 belts between them across 9 different weight classes which just emphasises how promising the current British boxing scene is. We also have boxers such as Anthony Joshua and Callum Smith hopefully not too far away from getting their gloves on one of Boxing’s biggest belts.

It’s not just in the ring Boxing is having an impact around the UK, it’s outside of it too with more and more young kids than ever before hoping to be the next Joe Calzaghe or Lennox Lewis. With gyms becoming more affordable, training being more accessible and current stars performing on the world stage, the future is looking bright for British Boxing.

Hopefully some of that has caught your attention rather than knocked you out and has been of interested to you, if it has follow this blog for ongoing updates.