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Interview: Callum Smith

Sports Mole speaks to British super-middleweight Callum Smith ahead of his fight with Christopher Rebrasse for the WBC silver title on June 26.

While the likes of Carl Froch, George Groves and James DeGale have taken centre stage in the super-middleweight division on both the domestic and world scene, a number of other British fighters have started to make their move towards a potential shot at a world title within the next 12 months.

One of those fighters is Callum Smith, who has emerged as one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing after amassing 16 successive victories since turning professional in 2012. Half of those wins have come by first-round knockout, while the Merseyside puncher also holds a significant triumph over former world title challenger Nikola Sjekloca.

Sports Mole caught up with the 25-year-old ahead of his attempt to win the vacant WBC silver title against Christopher Rebrasse at Liverpool's Echo Arena on June 26.

How has training gone so far and what were you able to take from your fight against Olegs Fedotovs in May given that it only lasted 96 seconds?

"Training has been going good so far. It's tough, but it's got to be done. There's not long to go now.

"All I could really take out of the Fedotovs fight was that it was a good confidence builder. I'd been out of the ring for a while so to come back and get a good one-round knockout over someone who had lasted longer against a few other people at my weight was good for my confidence. I would have liked some rounds, but I get good sparring so it makes up for that."

Callum Smith of England in action with Vladine Biosse of the USA during their WBC International Super Middleweight Championship fight at the Liverpool Echo Arena on July 12, 2014© Getty Images

What do you make of your next opponent Christopher Rebrasse?

"It's a tough fight, he's a good fighter. Now that I've studied him, he's a lot better than we initially thought when the fight was made. I've got my work cut out but these are the types of fights that I want to be involved in. I'm not going to earn a shot at a world title without winning the tough fights. They've all got to be credible opponents and I think this is the right fight for me at the right time."

Last September, he suffered a points defeat to George Groves. How do you think he performed in that fight?

"I thought he did a lot better than people expected. After suffering the two losses to Froch, I think Groves was expecting to come back and put in a good performance to put himself back in there, but I think he struggled. It was a good fight and Rebrasse made him work for it. I know I have a hard fight, but after studying him, I believe that I have the beating of him and that I can beat him comfortably."

Victory over Rebrasse would see you win the WBC silver title and move a step nearer to facing the winner of Groves and Badou Jack. How do you see that fight panning out?

"I think Groves beats him but if Groves produces the same kind of performances as he did in his last two fights, he might not. I think it all depends on which George Groves turns up but with a world title on the line, I think you'll get a good performance from him. I think he beats Badou Jack, but I also thought that Anthony Dirrell would beat Jack.

"He surprised a lot of people and performed out of his skin. Maybe he has improved since his loss, but I do think that it's a good fight and one that I will be paying close attention to because I'd like to be facing one of them in a couple of fights' time, providing that things go to plan."

Without overlooking Rebrasse, will you be staying with the WBC route or is challenging James DeGale for the IBF title a possibility for later in the year?

"I don't know yet, we'll have to wait to see how I come through this fight. At the moment, I'm going for the WBC title because that is the route that I have chosen to go, but if an opportunity came up, I would definitely consider changing it to try to win one of the four recognised world titles. As of now, the WBC route is the best way for me and that is the route that we are going down."

Callum Smith in action with Nikola Sjekloca during their WBC International Super Middleweight Championship at Liverpool Echo Arena on November 22, 2014© Getty Images

Martin Murray, who is also from the North-West, has announced that he is moving up to the super-middleweight division. Is that a fight that you potentially see happening at some stage in the near future?

"Yeah I do, he's a good fighter. He's made what is already a quality division even better - the domestic scene over here is great. They aren't really domestic fights though, because a lot of the fighters are top 10 in the world.

"It's a good division and adding Martin Murray to it means that it is another potential fight down the line. As long as we all keep winning, I'm sure that there will be some big fights between us all."

In the past, a potential move to light-heavyweight has been talked about for the future. How long do you see yourself remaining at 168lbs?

"I think I've easily got a couple of years left at this weight. I'm making the weight pretty easy at the minute , and the only reason that I think I may move up at some stage is because I've got the height for it. I think when I mature a bit more, I will probably fill out to 175lbs, but at the moment, I make it comfortable and I'd like to think that I'd remain at this weight long enough to win a world title."

Moving away from boxing, how have you found attracting a lot more media attention over the past 12 months?

"It's been okay, I think I'm getting a lot better at it. It's more a case of getting used to it and practice makes perfect. The more you do it, the more comfortable you feel and you get used to it. If I keep winning, it's only going to get bigger and bigger so hopefully I will have to get used to it.

"I'm enjoying it though. It's nice to get noticed and get my name out there. I've not only got to do my job in the ring but I've also got to do it outside of it as well."

Earlier this year, you, Paul, Stephen and Liam all featured on The One Show on BBC. How did that come about?

"It was mainly to do with my mum. They wanted to speak to my mum who has four lads who are professional boxers, so we went down for it. It was good, she enjoyed the whole day. It was really nice for her because she doesn't get involved in the boxing side of it too much. She supports us, but she doesn't like to watch or go to the fights so it was nice for her to have a bit of the limelight for what she does for us."

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Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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