Callum Smith secured a spot in the semi-final of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series tournament with a 12-round points verdict over Erik Skoglund on Saturday night. Headlining in Liverpool’s Echo Arena, live on ITV4 in the UK, Smith will now face the winner of Rob Brant and Juergen Braehmer who meet on October 28.
Smith entered the ring with a 22-0 record (17 knockouts) but his ring activity had been significantly slowed down of late as ‘Mundo’ sat on a lofty world championship ranking, waiting for an opportunity.
Smith snapped his jab early in the first round and tried to take centre ring. His shots did appear to have greater force behind them but Skoglund navigated the ring well, popping a jab of his own and trying to get inside without copping any leather. The Swede was able to drop in a right hand but his record does not indicate a concussive hitter.
Skoglund displayed good upper body movement for the most part in round two as Smith sought to find the range for his jab and right cross. Callum landed a powerful right hand midway through the third that stirred the crowd to their feet as their man cranked up the pressure.
Skoglund was competitive but there was a feeling that the early rounds were slipping away, even though he was always in the fight. It appeared he had little to deter Smith from walking in to distance and letting his shots go, until the fifth session, when some raking blows bloodied Smith’s nose. The visitor’s left jab was finding a home in the sixth as well with Smith’s head looking a touch too static.
After struggling with his opponent’s output in the middle rounds Smith rallied late in the ninth, moving on to the front foot and landing a solid left hook to the body followed by a right hand to the head. The Matchroom boxer was commendably digging in and showing his mettle and subsequently forced Skoglund to take a knee in the eleventh round after a right hand dipped his legs and a follow up barrage was enough for the Swede to touch down. Smith was able to time his opponent’s left jabs and sneak a right hand in behind it, using his boxing brain well to work out an effective path to victory. The Liverpudlian deservedly took the fight on points.
Judge John Keane scored it 116-112 while Michael Tate took the knockdown in to account at 117-110 and Ernesto Saldivar returned a 117-111.
“It was a good win against a good fighter,” Smith said after the bout. “I’ve been out of the ring a long time, so it was my first proper test and I got 12 rounds which is what I needed. He had a good jab and made me think a lot – I’ll benefit a lot from this. Both [Brant and Braehmer] are good fighters but I’m in this tournament to win it.”
Skoglund was understandably disappointed but remained philosophical: “I fell short in the first round and I have to watch closely but I guess the better man won. I wish Callum all the best in the tournament,” he said.
“I had about a 10-month training camp, moving down in weight, I had a good plan and a good performance but sometimes you can’t do the right things at the right moments. I need to come back even stronger.”
On the undercard there were wins for Martin Murray, Danny Little and Isaac McLeod.