Fighting dynasties are common in boxing where Father’s and sons, brothers, sisters and cousins all lace up the gloves and go to war inside the squared circle. None however have been more successful in recent times than Liverpool’s other Fab Four, the Smith Brothers; Paul, Stephen, Liam and Callum. All stand out amateurs, all have won a British title with two winning world titles. Coming up through the spit and sawdust of the Rotunda ABC they embody the spirit of the fighting city of Liverpool. Now training out of the notorious Gallagher’s gym they have quietly built a fan base of scousers that have travelled all over the world to support them. Their all action fighting styles alongside their autism awareness campaigns and tireless charity work mean they have a whole city backing them in whatever they do. Despite all the accolades, whenever any of the brothers are asked they all maintain one of them is better than the others, their little brother; Mundo.
Callum himself humble as ever, doesn’t agree; “I think they just wanted to make me feel better when I was a kid and they were all winning stuff!” He told IFL last year. However in Jeddah, he proved that his brothers faith in him had not been deluded. He fought then the WBA (super) Champion George Groves in the final of the world boxing super series super middleweight final defeating him via 7th round KO. Callum finished the fight with his signature catch left hook followed by a vicious combination that culminated with a sickening body shot from which Groves simply couldn’t recover. The new world champion also added the ring magazine belt and the Muhammad Ali trophy to his trophy cabinet that already held a WBC Diamond, European, British and WBC international titles. This made the man, Hunter for so long, denied his shot at the title, the hunted.
When you become the number one in a division, beating the champion you suddenly acquire a target on your back, the target Dirrell and Groves has had when Smith was the hungry contender. How he would deal with this now became the question on the lips of the boxing public. We were forced to wait however, after three gruelling training camps back to back in 2018 and the birth of his first child, Callum started 2019 with a well deserved rest. When he had rested up he was announced as the headliner of AJ’d fateful clash with Andy Ruiz Jr at Madison Square Garden.
After the 9 months out there were questions about his motivation as champion as he fought the relatively unknown Hassan N’dam. Although not a top contender N’dam was fresh off a decision victory over the ever tough and skilled Martin Murray and therefore was probably no slouch. Callum proved his class when he took no time at all to shake off the ring rust and go to work on N’dam. Everyone knows that Callum Smith uses his lead hand to catch your shot and throw a simultaneous left hook and everyone knows it carries immense power, but still no one can stop it. N’dam was dropped twice in two rounds with that exact shot, tough as ever though N’dam kept fighting to protect his head from the left hook. This was where Callum showed how cerebral he is by adjusting, feinting the left hook and knocking his man out clean with a straight right hand. It was a spectacular shot and a knockout of the year contender.
This knockout showed he was world class and started conversations about every big name in and around 168lbs. No body however, wanted to risk their reputations fighting Callum Smith. Canelo, despite being the ‘regular’ champion at the same weight with the same governing body, turned the fight down to fight Kovalev, who had also refused to welcome Smith to 175lbs. Billy Joe Saunders despite winning a WBO world title at 168 and singing with Smiths promoter Eddie Hearn turned down the fight in favour of fighting on the undercard of two YouTubers…take from that what you will. There was however one man willing to step up the the plate, dogged campaigner John Ryder.
Ryder, unlike the others has no desire to protect his ‘0’ or title or record, he is simply chasing greatness. After a career of ups and downs he is on his best run yet and now is the mandatory challenger for Smiths WBA title after his specialty KO over Bilal Akkawy. He is a rough and tough contender who has seen it all at both middle and super middle and will be looking to spoil Callum’s homecoming extravaganza. At only 5”9 Ryder is a small super middleweight and when combined with his power punching southpaw style he can pose problems for anyone at 168lbs. If he can slip under Smith’s jab in order to attack the long body of Smith he could be able to impose his game plan on the fight and science the notoriously rowdy Liverpool crowd. Despite my respect Ryder I don’t think he will be able to do that. Smiths jab is a spear, his right hand a battering ram and his left hook is a Tomahawk. He is tall, slick, rangy, powerful and lighting fast.
I personally believe that no one at 168lbs is capable of beating Callum and John Ryder will not be able to last 6 or 7 rounds on Saturday night.
Callum Smith has had his last three fights in America, Saudi Arabia and Germany. He has toured the world fighting Swedes, Cameroonians, Dutchmen and fellow Brits, and he’s conquered them all. Now it’s time to come home. All the fighting smith brothers are proud scousers and Scousers have a bond with each other like no other city in the world. Go into the Jac or the Cavern and you’ll make a friend for life, stand in the Kop and you’re part of a choir of a million voices, walk past the George’s hall or The Liver Building and history walks with you. Step in a boxing ring and you’ll have respect for life. Callum with have an entire city in the ring with him as he brings his world title home.
The atmosphere will be absolutely electric this weekend and as George Harrison once said “Liverpool is full of people who go out on a Monday and couldn’t care less about Tuesday morning” and if that’s the case, imagine what it’s like on a Saturday night…
Ewan Breeze – Rebel Boxing for SimBoxx🥊
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