As we enter a busy period in the boxing calendar our attention turns to a hotly anticipated clash of British Super-Middleweights as Callum Smith (17-0, 12 KOs) takes on fellow Liverpudlian Rocky Fielding (21-0, 12 KOs) for the vacant British Super-Middleweight title on Saturday night at the Echo Arena, Liverpool.
The fight is the main event on a card dubbed “Who’s Fooling Who?” in reference to the long awaited bout between both these undefeated fighters. The pair have been circling one another for the last two years and on Saturday night someone’s ‘0’ will have to go.
In one corner, we find Callum Smith 25, one quarter of the infamous boxing Smith brothers. Callum has long been regarded as the best of the Smith brothers and a future world champion. If he wins on Saturday he will make history as never before have four brothers held British titles.
It is easy to see why Callum is so highly regarded. Physically, at 6’3 he is tall and rangy combining these attributes with sharp, fast and accurate punching. He also possesses a strong jab, a good variety in his combinations and a lethal hook to the body. He also carries significant power with eight first round stoppages on his record. He is regarded as the favourite going into this one.
Across the ring from Smith on Saturday night is a fighter who arguably could be described as his mirror image in ring terms.
Rocky Fielding 28, like Smith was born in the Merseyside part of Liverpool. Initially campaigning as a Light-Heavyweight he dropped down to the Super-Middleweight division to compete in the Prize-fighter Tournament, winning it outright with a stoppage in each of his three fights. He also stands tall at 6’2, possesses a strong jab, throws a variety of punches and carries power. He too has an impressive professional record with six first round knockouts to his name as well as being a former Commonwealth Super-Middleweight champion.
It is easy to understand how this fight earned the moniker of “Who’s fooling Who?” the careers of both these punchers have been building to this point and this is a pivotal moment in both their futures. The pressure has been cranked up a notch recently following a public spat between Smith’s trainer; Joe Gallagher and Fielding’s trainer; Oliver Harrison. It amounts to little more than verbal jousting, a pre-cursor to the main event.
All that matters is what happens inside the ring. Fielding’s last fight was an impressive stoppage of former world title challenger Brian Vera. It should be noted that the loss to Fielding was Vera’s fourth consecutive loss and having campaigned for most of his career at Middleweight he seemed all but finished as a professional.
In contrast Smith’s last fight was a unanimous point’s victory against the tough Frenchman Christopher Rebrasse, who previously took George Groves the distance in a European title fight. It may have taken Smith the full twelve rounds to get past Rebrasse but he very nearly stopped the Frenchman in the closing stages with a body shot, and it is a testament to Rebrasse’s conditioning that he was able to haul himself off the canvas and finish the fight.
Both Smith and Fielding share an opponent in Olegs Fedotovs, a hardened journeyman from Latvia. He took Rocky Fielding the distance over eight rounds in March 2015, whereas Callum Smith disposed of him in one round, at one stage completely buckling his legs with a body shot and this was following a six month lay-off in May 2015. Although in fairness to Fielding he had also just returned from an eighth month lay-off following a hand injury.
One of the things to emerge from the war of words between the fighters trainers is the criticism levelled at Fielding by Joe Gallagher that he is a fighter that fights on pure nerves. Nervous energy in a fighter can be dangerous as it can impact on a fighter’s stamina. George Groves in the Badou Jack fight is a good example of how this can undermine a fighter’s performance.
Fielding has only gone twelve rounds once in his career, whereas Smith has done it twice but will both fighters inexperience in the championship rounds be a factor? It may very well be a moot point, if Gallagher’s nervous energy theory is proved right by Smith’s thumping body punching. That said, Fielding has sparred in the past with his stablemate and fellow Super-Middleweight Martin Murray who is renowned for his body punching.
This should be an intriguing affair, but perhaps what is most refreshing about this fight is that it goes against the grain in terms of how modern fights are promoted. Five years ago Smith and Fielding would have been kept apart for as long as possible, until perhaps they held world titles, but it is so refreshing to see two domestic fighters box for the British title. It seems like the natural order of things.
In terms of a result Callum Smith will be the favourite to claim the title. His work seems sharper than Fielding’s added to that the potential for this fight to end inside the distance. However, whatever the result the loser will certainly not be a disgrace or washed up. This a genuine title fight and both fighters should be applauded for putting their career prospects on the line in this fashion.
On the undercard, former WBO World Lightweight champion, Ricky Burns (38-5-1, 12 KOs) takes on Australia’s Josh King (20-3, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBO Intercontinental Lightweight title. For Burns this is another step in rebuilding his career having lost his title to Terence Crawford in March 2014 along the way to losing three of his last six fights. His opponent Josh King lost his professional debut in 2007 and has built his professional record on wins against journeymen. King will be giving away a four and a half inch height advantage to Burns who needs another win in order to get his career back on track.
Smith v Fielding plus the full undercard is on Sky Sports 1 on Saturday the 7th November from 8pm.