JEDDAH: New WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith has his sights set on a dream fight at Anfield after beating George Groves in the inaugural World Boxing Super Series final in Jeddah.
Smith stopped Groves after a seventh-round barrage to become world champion in a bruising contest at King Abdullah Sports City.
And the Liverpool native is now determined to unify the division, preferably at the home of the football club he has supported since childhood.
“I don’t want to waste my time with pointless fights, I want to get in there and see how good I am – see how far my talent can take me,” Smith told Arab News after his victory in Jeddah.
“I entered this tournament knowing there’s a lot of good fighters in it and I am willing to fight the best and I think I’ve shown that by beating George.
“There’s three other people who call themselves world champion in my weight division and I’d like to fight some of them. I’d like to unify it and collect all the belts.
“Anfield is open to boxing now and I’m ticking off things I’ve always wanted to do and that’s a big one left to tick off.”
The main event of the first night of professional boxing King Abdullah Sports City had a cagey start, with the Saudi crowd booing as the two boxers each waited for the other to make the first move.
It was Smith who turned the screw in the third round, landing a huge right hand that rocked Groves. But the defending champion recovered and was up on two of the four judges’ cards in the seventh round.
However, a vicious left-hook from Smith was the beginning of the end for Groves, who was finished off with a heavy body shot in his corner.
It is difficult so see where Groves goes next, with some predicting a rematch with James DeGale and others suggesting retirement could be a real possibility. After the fight, the 30-year-old said it was time to take a break.
“It was not meant to be,” Groves said. “Full credit to Callum.He got me with a body shot at the end, which is embarrassing for me, because I've never been dropped with a body shot in my life, but he got the decisive shot in the end.
"I'm going to have a long rest because it's been a dogged year. I won the world title just over a year ago, but I want to go home because I miss my wife and kids."
Ahead of the main event, Chris Eubank Jr got back to winning ways in his first fight since defeat to Groves in the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals earlier this year. A mean left hook floored JJ McDonagh in the first round and while the Irishman survived for two more, he opted not to come out for the fourth.
What followed was an exchange that wouldn’t have been out of place in January’s WWE event in Jeddah. Eubank accused his opponent of throwing in the towel too easily and a furious McDonagh had to be held back by his trainer to avoid an early rematch.
For Eubank, it was an opportunity to shake off the ring rust of the past seven months.
“People say I can’t jab so I wanted to show the haters and the critics that there’s a different side to Chris Eubank,” the Englishman said.
Earlier on the undercard there was notable success for the Arab representatives in Jeddah. The night began well as UAE-based Aliu Bamidele Lasisi recorded a comfortable points’ victory over Artid Bamrungauea. The Nigerian, who fights out of Round 10 Gym in Dubai, became the first man to win a professional boxing bout in Saudi Arabia.
King Abdullah Sports City was short of capacity but it didn’t affect the volume when Saudi fighter Abdulfatah Julaidan walked out in front of his home crowd. It was a historic moment and the 39-year-old duly delivered, emerging victorious on points to earn a hero’s reception.
The pressure was then on Zuhayr Al Qahtani to make it a Saudi double and the charismatic super lightweight did not disappoint – emulating his compatriot by claiming a win on points. Al-Qahtani, the ‘Arabian Warrior’ was hoisted aloft and draped in the Saudi flag, before Prince Naseem Hamed joined him in the ring to share in the celebrations.
“Congratulations on the big win,” Prince Naseem said, addressing the Saudi fighter and arena in Arabic. “I think soon we will see a new Arab champion emerge.”
Al Qahatani agreed, promising to challenge for a title sooner rather than later.
“I got him early on with a swift uppercut and I could see his eyes go blurry,” he told Arab News.
“God willing I’m hoping to fight for the Asian title. I’ll discuss with my team nut I need a title and need it soon. I’m ready.”