Smith primed for Mohoumadi hurdle
It would be fair to say that Callum Smith and Hadillah Mohoumadi don’t know a lot of the same people. Local pride and bragging rights won’t be up for grabs when the two super-middleweights square off for the Frenchman’s European title on Saturday night at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
That wasn’t the case last November when Smith (18-0, 13 KOs) took on Rocky Fielding in a domestic clash, for the British super-middleweight title, that had been bubbling for a while and came to the boil at the perfect time.
“I believe I can go to the top but if I was going to lose to someone Rocky Fielding would be the last person I’d choose,” Smith told Boxing Monthly when he looked back at the build-up to what became a one-round blow-out of his rival.
“I was going to get my haircut and everyone was talking about it. I’d be putting petrol in and someone would shout good luck with your fight with Rocky. Everywhere I was going. We know a lot of the same people, we don’t live too far away from each other so it was really a local derby.
“All eyes seemed to be on it. If I had lost, I wouldn’t have been able to get away from it anywhere I went being reminded of it. It did add that little bit more pressure and it was a must-win fight for me but at the end of the day this one’s just as important because if I lose this one then the Fielding fight was pointless really.”
Since putting Tobias Webb down four times (KO 2) back in 2014 to win the WBC International title Smith has been slowly making his way up their rankings and now finds himself as No.1 contender to the green belt held by champion Badou Jack. The American-based Swede makes the second defence of his title on 30 April against Lucian Bute.
“I think Jack’s improving all the time since he won the title and I think Bute’s best days are behind him, although he put in a good performance with [IBF champion James] DeGale. I think he’ll still come up short and Jack will be too fresh for him,” said Smith when asked for a prediction on the fight.
Vladine Biosse, Nikola Sjekloca, Christopher Rebrasse and Rocky Fielding have all challenged Smith’s ascent up the WBC ladder but have rarely threatened to push him off. Should Smith capture European honours in front of home support on Saturday a world title challenge against Jack will be within touching distance but the relaxed Liverpudlian is happy to bide his time.
“My mandatory won’t get called till August/September,” Smith told BM.
“There’s talk of him fighting DeGale in a unification before my mandatory so I don’t know, we’ll have to see how it all pans out. Either way, I’m not too fussed if it’s this year, next year… I feel like I’m improving all the time. I’m only 25. If it’s this year I’d be happy but I don’t mind waiting.”
Smith, however, isn’t taking his eyes off the challenge possessed by Hadillah Mohoumadi. The atmosphere inside the Echo Arena might not replicate that of last November’s dust-up as well as the thousands singing ‘Sweet Caroline’, but as he alluded to earlier, it will all count for nothing if he doesn’t take care of business against Mohoumadi.
“He’s European champion so I’ve got to respect him,” Smith warned.
“When I’ve done a bit of homework on him I think he’s a tough night for anyone stylistically. He comes forward, he’s strong, he’s pretty big for the weight. His record suggest he hits hard. He’s knocked 15 out of his 20 wins out.
"I think if you watch his fight DeGale [in 2012] he gave DeGale a tough night Although DeGale won, he was making him work for every round he won and I expect the same. I expect him to make me work for three minutes of every round and it’s something I’m going to have to come up against if I’m going to win.”
Sounds a bit like the fight Smith had against Christopher Rebrasse, who fights Fielding on Saturday’s undercard, last June when the 30-year-old Frenchman made Smith work for 12 rounds. A good workout for Smith that resulted in three wide scorecards in favour of the Brit.
“Yeah, I think stylistically he’s similar although he hits harder than Rebrasse,” Smith said of Mouhamadi.
“He has the same type of front foot pressure, comes forward with a tight guard and looks hard to hit clean. It’s a tough fight but one I believe I’m ready for and, if I believe I’m good enough to win world titles which I do, then I’ve got to come through these fights so I’m looking forward to it.”
And, as mentioned, two of Smith’s former opponents – Fielding and Rebrasse – meet for the old WBC International strap that he once held. Having good knowledge of both men, BM asked him for a prediction on the fight.
“It’s a good fight. An interesting one to go right back into because I do believe Rebrasse is a tough night for anyone.
“He’s got a good chin, he’s tough, hard to hit clean and cuts the ring off well. A bit like Mohoumadi. He makes you work for every minute of every round. Even if you’re not throwing you’re constantly having to judge your distance. He’s always got his front foot in pressurising you.
“My opinion on Rocky is he’s dangerous for four rounds and then I feel he fizzles out a bit. I think he’ll look good for the first few rounds with Rebrasse, but if he’s still there it could be interesting late on. I think he’ll win on points but I think it’ll be tough late on because Rebrasse is relentless. He just keeps going.”
Photo: Paul Currie.