By Gary Mushrow, ringside [@gary9690]
It took Callum Smith all of 165 seconds to be crowned Britain’s hottest commodity behind only rising heavyweight sensation Anthony Joshua.
The British super middleweight became the fourth and final Smith brother to win the prestigious Lord Lonsdale challenge belt, a feat which will likely never be repeated again in history.
The defending WBC silver super middleweight champion annihilated rival Rocky Fielding last night in the space of just a round, knocking his opponent down three times on the way to an impressive stoppage victory.
After ramping up the crowd to fever pitch, both fighters fenced in the centre of the ring with their jabs early on, exchanging blows to the head and body. Smith quickly stamped his mark on the action with a glancing right hook which wobbled Fielding followed by a wicked left hook which put the former Commonwealth champion down.
Fielding rose and both fighters went toe-to-toe in the centre of the ring with Smith landing a clear right hook to the head and left hook to the body to force his opponent back towards the ropes. Fielding looked already gone, but he came roaring back, biting down on his gum shield and firing a three punch volley to deter his onrushing opponent – only if momentarily.
The 28 year old attempted to walk Smith back, but the size difference between the two was staggering. Had you not witnessed both men make the 168lb limit on Friday, at first glance you’d believe two fighters, in two different weight divisions were settling a feud in the ring. Wickedly every time Fielding landed Smith just laughed.
The looping right hook to the head was paying dividends for Smith, with all the talk in the build up to the fight being his signature left hook to the body. Fielding’s problem was his inability to move from the ropes, his shots were thrown from square feet without enough power to deter his opponent, with his only successes coming mid round when forcing Smith backwards in straight lines with a flurry of combination punches.
A huge upper cut on the inside had Smith dazed and Fielding tried to seize his chance, throwing left and right hands as his fellow Liverpool man retreated. But as they say ‘an animal is always at its most dangerous when hurt’ and Smith threw a huge left hook to the head going backwards which put his opponent down for the second time to the delight of his corner and fans.
Fielding bravely gained his unsteady feet once more as referee Phil Edwards gestured the count, but Smith was on him again instantly. Planting his feet near the ropes he unleashed a barrage of precise hooks and straight shots which seemed to all catch his foe with Fielding succumbing to the pressure and going down for the third and final time. Bravely the former Stockbridge ABC amateur returned to his feet but stumbled and the referee had seen enough, waving off the contest at 2:45 of round one.
Speaking after the final bell, Smith said, “I don’t know what it looked like from the outside but it felt exciting when I was in there while it lasted. Credit to Rocky Fielding, he came out and we had a shootout and I think that’s what the public wanted. It was a good fight while it lasted and I’m pleased to get the win, it looks on paper like a one-round blowout but it’s a good win regardless of what round I put him away. I said in the build-up and it came across as a bit arrogant but I knew I was the better fighter and I just need the chance to prove it and I think I showed that tonight.”
“I don’t think it would finish in the first. I remember by brothers asked me a few weeks ago how I thought it would go and I said that with the crowd as soon as one shot landed it would catch fire and it will be over in the first four, but I would be a liar if I said I thought I would take him out in the first round. I thought it would be quick for four and then settle and at is where I would take over. I am British Champion and for the four of us to get that and make history is something I’m very proud of.
He continued excitedly, “Joe said to me before if I do hurt him be careful going in and I was a bit reckless but I never expected to get him out of there in one round. When I landed I sort of jumped on him and ended up in a bit of a shootout which gave him a chance to get back into a fight, so it’s something I do need to learn from. I haven’t been pro for three years yet, its ten days short of three years since I made my debut, so I’m still learning. I am doing everything right at the minute and I do think 2016 is the year I can become a World champion.”
“It is Rocky’s first loss and too many people write you off after a loss, it happened my brother Stephen, and look at him now. Without being big headed, Rocky has lost to a good fighter, not somebody he was expected to beat. I am sure he can go away, work hard and come back.”
Speaking to Sky Sports after the fight, “I am gutted,” said Fielding. “Hats off to Callum, he is a good fighter, and I knew I was in for a good fight. But that is boxing, one punch changed the game and fair play to him.
“I caught him with a good jab and I thought I had my rhythm but he let his shots go and he caught me. I recouped a bit and I thought I caught him but hats off, he is a big Super Middleweight and he caught me. I wasn’t hurt off it, I wasn’t knocked out. With me and him it was who landed first. I said all along I had power to catch him and hurt him and obviously he does too but he got me first and that was it. He will push on but I will be back and I will push on.
“I believe I am up there in the mix of things. I will sit down with Oliver and Eddie but I want a World-ranked fighter for my next fight, I am not going to go backwards. This is a defeat to a good fighter so I can learn from it and move on.”
The under card saw a thriller in the shape of Scotty Cardle’s British title defence against Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd. Both fighters went at it from bell-to-bell in an absolute war, worthy of a prestigious British title defence.
Challenger Dodd had brought swarms of fans from nearby Birkenhead and the atmosphere at the Echo Arena was terrific throughout the fight. Cardle was on top early, edging the first few rounds on this score card, with nice movement and jab to deter his plodding opponent as he followed him around the ring.
Things seemed to pick up for the Merseysider, as he returned from his corner in round three and took it to the champion as the pair engaged on the inside with head clashes as frequent as punches in the contest with neither fighter really at fault, more a clash of styles. Cardle was cut up pretty bad around the eye and forehead as a result, but both fighters were giving as good as they were taking.
This was a real 50-50 contest going through the later rounds, and Dodd seemed to have clawed back an early scoring advantage from the champion which set up a thrilling contest going down the stretch.
Both fighters exchange up close during round twelve and the Dodd had Cardle hurt early, but the champion came roaring back and pinned the fatigued Dodd against the ropes and unleashed a heavy arsenal of shots. Dodd tried to move laterally along the ropes to survive the round but he was spent, Cardle put together a four punch combination and Dodd went down.
Despicably referee Terry O’Connor failed to even administer an eight count to the challenger to the dismay of everybody in attendance, who felt both champion and challenger were worthy of such honours after punching it out for 36 minutes. Boos rang out around the Arena, the crowd had been robbed of a thrilling end to a thrilling fight and who could blame them?
The decision of a British official was again under scrutiny for the world to see – something we’re becoming all too familiar with.
“I’ve been tested before in the pros but I have never been tested like this,” said Cardle. “I really had to grit my teeth at times in that fight. For me, I was behind in every round so the only way was to knock him out. He is a warrior and he really dug deep. I will give him a rematch, he deserves it.
“My support has been superb,” said Dodd. “The ref is doing his job and I have no say in that. We are paid to entertain and I hope everybody who bought a ticket enjoyed the fight.”
“I felt like the referee stopped it too early,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “It was a great fight. Sean Dodd beat Gary Buckland and did a great job against Scotty Cardle, we have to see this fight again 100 per cent.”
The chief support saw Ricky Burns win an eleventh round technical knock out over Australian Josh King to capture the vacant WBO Inter-continental lightweight title. The title does little more than guarantee a ranking for the victor in that sanctioning body’s world ranking.
After a dull ten rounds in which both fighters were deducted points for holding and use of the head, Burns rocked a wicked left hook to the body which felled the WBO #7 contender. The victory came at 54 seconds of the eleventh round.
Debutants Ryan Mulchay and Warren Baister both picked up debut victories with impressive knock outs in round one. Tom Doran, Jake Ball and Ohara Davies all picked up stoppage victories with Marc Leach winning over the four round points distance.