Callum Smith returns to the ring on Saturday night at the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, live on Sky Sports, after six months out of action and is eager to get into the groove ahead of a big fight in Cardiff next month.
The unbeaten Super Middleweight star defends his WBC International Super Middleweight title against Tobias Webb on May 17 and faces Francois Bastient in a six-round clash to prepare for that battle and shake off the disappointment of missing out on the big Liverpool bill in March.
“I am really eager to get back in the ring,” said Smith. “I was very active in my first year as a pro so that made the six months I have been out feel a lot longer.
“It has been frustrating, but I think the first few months did me good to have a bit of a rest, but I didn’t want to have six months out. I wasn’t able to train as much as I wanted to during those six months. The first few months I could only do running and swimming, but I do feel that I benefited from doing quite a bit of that, and some circuit stuff.
“I started do some light punching and it has only been the last few weeks that I started to punch properly. It has been frustrating because the main thing you want to do is punch, but I worked hard on other things and I feel the benefits from those now.”
Smith’s rapid rise from his debut to feared KO merchant happened inside a year, with points wins in his first two fights in November and December 2012 followed by a remarkable run of six first round wins.
In his last outing, the youngest of the famous four fighting brothers stepped up in class with aplomb, stopping the vastly experienced former World title challenger Ruben Acosta in six rounds in Sheffield in October to win the vacant title he defends against Webb, and Smith says that win will be vital as he prepares to face the Swansea fighter.
“Acosta was a step up in class for me,” said Smith. “He had only been stopped twice; by a World champion and a former World champion, so to get the stoppage was great.
“I went six rounds and I think I learnt a lot more in those six rounds than I had done in my previous six fights, which had all ended in one round. I felt it was a good learning fight for me and a few more of those this year will do me good I think.
“Acosta had boxed at a higher level than Tobias Webb has, but Webb is only young and I think he has more ambition than what Acosta had. I think it will be a tougher fighter, he will certainly come to win; he only has one loss in 16 fights, and that was early on in his career in Prizefighter. He has improved a lot since then but I feel it is a step up I am ready for and one that will bring out the best performance in myself.
“I have always said that the better the opponent the better you will see from me, and I think I have proved that so far in my career. I intend on doing the same in Cardiff.
“I have a bit of a reputation now and I have to perform to keep that up, so I will be going in there on Saturday to give it my full attention. Really, it is a build up to the Webb fight; that is my priority. The Webb fight is a ten rounder and this will be good preparation for that fight.”
Smith’s return to the ring is part of a great night of action, topped by Scott Quigg’s WBA World Super Bantamweight title defence against Tshifhiwa Munyai.
There’s a mouth-watering Manchester derby between Lightweight stars Anthony Crolla and John Murray, Josh Warrington defends his Commonwealth Featherweight title against Rendall Munroe, Tyrone Nurse meets Tyler Goodjohn for the vacant English Light Welterweight title, Hosea Burton is hunting a first title fight and there’s action for Stephen Foster Jr, Jack Massey, Liam Hanrahan and Sam Hyde.