When Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk first met at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London last September, the undercard performance of Callum Smith caught many eyes.
The Liverpudlian was making his Light Heavyweight debut, after dropping his WBA Super Middleweight title to Canelo Alvarez who went on to become Undisputed champion at 168lbs.
Smith was then matched up against former WBA title challenger, Lenin Castillo, a tough experienced Dominican who had never been stopped before.
In the second round, the towering Brit caught his opponent with a single right hand sending the fighter’s body into shock.
Smith himself could not celebrate such was the concern for Castillo who was attended to by paramedics and rushed to a nearby hospital.
Speaking about his return to the ring next weekend and that knockout win, the 30-year-old told Sky Sports:
“As much as you want to win, that’s the last thing you want to see. Now and again, we do get a bad one in boxing where there’s long lasting damage, no one wants to see that.”
“Forget about the win and everything else, that becomes irrelevant, you just want the fighter to be safe and go home to his family. The next morning, I had a message off Castillo [that he was alright], so that was good and reassuring.”
“I say a prayer in the ring before a fight and it’s not to win, it’s just for myself and my opponent’s safety. Boxing’s a tough sport as it is, and we’ve all got families to go home to.”
The power puncher’s next Light Heavyweight test comes against Mathieu Bauderlique. The WBC final eliminator forms part of the Usyk-Joshua 2 undercard on August 20 in Jeddah.
The Frenchman may be unknown to most however Smith knows what he is up against, saying:
“He’s a good fighter, he’s European champion. He went to the Rio Olympics. He got the other bronze [medal]. He’s got good skills, he’s got good amateur pedigree, he’s got good boxing ability. A little bit heavy handed when he lets them go. It’s a tough fight. It’s got my respect, it’s one I’m taking seriously.”
The former World Boxing Super Series winner knows what is at stake in his next fight and the goal of becoming a two-weight world champion continues to spur him on.
“I know what I’m capable of, I know my goals and I know what I can do. I know I can become a two-weight world champion and that thought of achieving is what drives me and I keep chasing and I do believe I will get it.”