Callum Smith: The UK’s Finest Prospect

Callum Smith with Matt Hamilton

Callum Smith with Matt Hamilton

16 fights into his professional career Callum Smith has been given a varied introduction to the paid ranks – he’s already faced Nikola SjeklocaRuben Eduardo AcostaPatrick Mendy – all fighters with some if not earth shattering pedigree. ‘Mundo‘ next faces the accomplished world #24* Christopher Rebrasse whose most notable fight came against George Groves during which he displayed ruggedness & extreme durability. Indeed even before facing the Frenchman the Liverpudlian has ascended to as high as #11 in the world in the ultra-competitive Super Middleweight division based on accomplishment – above the likes of Anthony DirrellBrandon GonzalesJ’Leon Love & interestingly enough his own brother Paul Smith.

On the basis of recent evidence the top 4 168lbers in the UK – Carl Froch, James DeGale, George Groves & Callum Smith – are briskly going to evaporate into the Big 2 as Froch walks off into the sunset (£9.2 million cheque in hand from Wembley) & Groves – who looks a spent force at the elite level – endures a long, less glittering second half of a career that peaked far too early & ultimately far too briefly. The likely short to medium term target for the WBC’s #3 ranked contender Smith appears to be the still sell-able George Groves – who happens to hold the WBC Silver title.

If you’re asking how the most heavily touted of the Smith brothers did in the amateurs… Callum Smith’s attempt to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games in London ended in controversy at the final Olympic Qualification Tournament in Turkey. Smith ‘lost’ 16:14 in comically corrupt fashion to Vatan Huseynli. He’s thus a non-Olympian in the same sense as Mike Tyson was a non-Olympian – with a huge asterisk next to that fact.

The AIBA subsequently decided that an invitational place at the Olympics was to be made available to a wildcard pick of their choice. This place was somehow given to Boško Drašković of Montenegro, a fighter Smith had convincingly beaten earlier in the tournament. Drašković, unsurprisingly, was knocked out of the Olympics in the first round. As many amateur boxing trainers often remind me – corruption & skulduggery are not the exclusive remit of the professional ranks. This travesty though – to me anyway – makes the 25 year old more likely, not less likely, to forge a very successful professional career – he knows more than most in his blue chip prospect position what real hunger means & he’s been shaped by (unjust) adversity.

Hamilton’s Top 10 UK Prospects*

* Prospect as defined as never having previously fought for a World title. Criteria include the perceived sum of talent; youth & promotional situation – ie. a very talented fighter who isn’t particularly young & doesn’t have strong promotional backing they can still rank should that talent be of significant enough significance to overcome these handicaps.

  1. Callum Smith
  2. Anthony Joshua
  3. Luke Campbell
  4. Sam Eggington
  5. Rocky Fielding
  6. John Ryder
  7. Khalid Yafai
  8. Larry Ekundayo
  9. Jack Catterall
  10. Hughie Fury