Callum Smith: Big fight targets in 2019 including possible Kovalev match-up at light-heavy
Mundo made waves in 2018 and is targeting blockbuster unification fights this year. Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse looks at the next move...
"It would, therefore, be up to Team Smith to budge up a weight category to meet Sergey, but that’s not something that worries them"
Pick of the bunch
Callum Smith looks back on 2018 as the year he announced his talents to the wider boxing public. The 28-year-old Liverpool born super middleweight is part of the famous Smith fighting family, with many insiders believing him to be the pick of the bunch.
Mundo fought only twice last year but secured a couple of important wins. He defeated previously unbeaten Dutchman Nieky Holzken (13-0-0) on points in Germany over 12 rounds for the WBC Diamond title. That bout also served as the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series and Smith went on to win the Muhammad Ali Trophy outright with the devasting seventh round knockout of fellow Brit George Groves, a result that sent the Londoner into retirement.
That inside the distance win over St George also saw Smith realise a lifelong dream of becoming champion of the world, picking up the WBA title, pushing him into contention for some mouth-watering unification bouts in the coming months.
Names in the frame
Followers of the progressive 6ft 3inch orthodox's career are excited about what the near future holds for their star and Betfair traders gift punters the chance to play match-maker and get in early to secure a share of the betting value.
Who will Callum Smith fight next? You can bet on the opponent and outcome of the fight on the Betfair Sportsbook and there are a few eye-catching names in the frame, including talented Russian Sergey Kovalev. 35-year-old Krusher snatched the WBO strap with an upset win over Eleider Alvarez in February - a result correctly predicted by us.
That was up at light heavyweight and it's unlikely the Florida-based champion, now with a professional record reading 33-3-1, would be interested in trying to move down a division. It would, therefore, be up to Team Smith to budge up a weight category to meet Sergey, but that's not something that worries them.
Smith's trainer Joe Gallagher told members of the sporting press earlier this month they are chasing the unification fights and have instructed promoter Eddie Hearn to go after the big names, but if they aren't interested in facing Callum at 168lb, they could be forced to target the top dogs at 175.
A step-up in weight didn't work out too well for other British fighters recently, including Kell Brook and Amir Khan, but there's little doubt Smith has the size, strength and punch power to mix it at light heavy. It's certainly a strong Plan B to have.
Golovkin meeting makes sense
If staying at super-middle, there are a few blockbuster names they would fancy taking on, including Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez.
Triple G may rate as a powerhouse on the pound-for-pound scene, but he has won only one of his last three - split decision draw with Canelo, uninspiring KO2 win over Vanes Martirosyan and majority decision loss to the Mexican in their rematch - and there's not a lot of possible opponents that spark interest amongst his army of supporters. A third fight with Saul is a possibility, but that would have to wait until after Alvarez v Daniel Jacobs, scheduled for 4 May in Vegas.
Smith v Golovkin would certainly attract attention and the Kazakh superstar may even be tempted into a return to Britain, following his fifth-round win over Brook at the 02 Arena, London in September 2016. If both fighters are keen to meet this year, and the contracts can be agreed, Betfair traders would be happy to sit on the fence and let punters work it out for themselves.
Gennady Golovkin is priced a marginal favourite, with 5/6 available on the Sportsbook - market best price at the time of writing. That leaves Callum Smith with a 10/11 tag attached, the draw an eye-catching 25/1.
With GGG bringing an 85% knockout average to the table - Smith sitting at 72% - the Englishman's best chance of inflicting a second career defeat on Golovkin in 41 starts would surely be on the scorecards. It is, however, worth knowing three of the jolly's last four have travelled the 12-round distance.