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It’s not yet known whether Callum Smith will fight in May or June but what we do know is he’s likely to next appear in America rather than at home.
The talented Liverpudlian had been linked to a fight in his home city, perhaps at Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club, and sounded excited by the idea. However, Eddie Hearn, his promoter, has said the new WBA champion’s first defence has more chance of landing in the USA – possibly as chief-support to Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight debut on May 18 – due to Smith’s financial demands.
Asked if Smith’s next fight would take place in Liverpool, Hearn told Sky Sports: “Unlikely. He has got to the level where we have to pay him substantial money. May in Chicago or June [in New York] are options before coming back and fighting in a big fight.”
Hearn also revealed he would like Smith to box on the June 1 undercard propping up heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Jarrell Miller in New York. Reading between the lines, though, it would seem a May 18 date supporting Usyk seems more probable at this stage.
As for the opponent, that’s anyone guess. Certainly, there appears no rush with Smith in terms of landing him a big fight. The big ones, namely fights against a fellow 168-pound champion or a domestic rival, are being targeted for later this year.
“Billy Joe Saunders has moved up to super-middle,” said Hearn, “and also Chris Eubank Jr vs. James DeGale – he could fight one of those guys in the autumn.”
Given it has been five months since his breakout (if somewhat low-key) title-winning stoppage of George Groves, it will, at this stage, be good to see Callum Smith fight anyone, anywhere.
Though he only has seven pro fights to his name, Joe Joyce, such is the shallowness of his division, probably isn’t too far off fighting for a version of the world heavyweight title.
The 2016 Olympic silver medallist has shown an ambition and fearlessness many of his fellow contenders lack, and it’s for this reason he has made ‘Juggernaut’-sized strides and is approaching the champions sooner than many anticipated. He is also 33 years of age, of course, so time is of the essence.
This Saturday (February 23) in London, Joyce fights former WBC world heavyweight champion Bermane Stiverne in a fight that has recently been turned into a WBA title eliminator. Win that – and he should – and Joyce will be on course for a title shot of some description by the end of this year or early next year.
If he keeps winning, we could see him share a ring with Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury, his fellow Brits, or perhaps America’s Deontay Wilder, a man who has twice beaten Stiverne.
“I’m top five in the WBA at the moment and I’m moving fast,” he said. “Each fight is getting me closer and closer to the top three names in the heavyweight division. I’m just going to keep on working hard in the gym and, if everything goes well, I’ll be back training for the next one soon. This year I’m going to make big strides.
“A Wilder fight is a fight to make in the future. That’s a good fight. I like the WBC belt.”
Joyce has previously sparred Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury but has yet to share a ring with Wilder or feel his vaunted punch power. That said, he was sitting ringside the night the WBC champion dropped Fury twice and salvaged a draw in their December showdown and is already making notes.
“Out of the three Wilder has the least technique but is probably the most powerful,” Joyce said. “He has one hell of an equaliser. He is also very patient. Once he hurts someone, he jumps in and finishes it. That’s his style. But if he doesn’t see and can’t land anything then he is content to wait it out until he gets that chance to land a big blow.”
It will be interesting to hear what Bermane Stiverne makes of Joe Joyce once he has spent a few rounds in his presence on Saturday night. The 40-year-old Haitian has been around a bit, won and lost a world heavyweight title, and will be able to offer as good an assessment as anyone if the result of the fight goes the way most expect it to this weekend.