‘Mundo’ prepared for “must-win” Liverpool homecoming
Callum Smith has admitted that his 2020 Anfield dream would disappear if he were to surrender his WBA World, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine Super-Middleweight titles to mandatory challenger John Ryder at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool on Saturday November 23, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US.
‘Mundo’ returns home to fight in his native Liverpool for the first time since outpointing Sweden’s Erik Skoglund in September 2017 knowing that a win over his fellow Brit Ryder is vital if he is to secure a mega-fight against the likes of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez or Billy Joe Saunders next summer.
“I want the big fights, I want the superstar names and the only chance of me getting them is by having a World title, so I’ve got to keep my belt for as long as I can,” said Smith. “John Ryder poses a big threat. He wants to take what I’ve worked so hard for. I worked hard to win my World title and I’ve got to work even harder to keep it now.
“I’m expecting a tough fight from John Ryder, he’s in good shape and it’s a big opportunity for him. I just think the best version of me beats any Super-Middleweight on the planet. With the way I’ve been performing in the gym, I think I’m going to put in a big performance. You’ve got to respect him because he’s in good form. He’s won fights where he was the underdog and he wasn’t supposed to win.
“He deserves a lot of respect. He hasn’t just been picked out of a hat, he earnt the mandatory position with good wins. I respect every fighter and John especially, but like I said before I think the best version of me beats any Super-Middleweight in the World and as long as I turn up and perform the way I know I can then I think I’ll be too much for him.”
Smith (26-0, KOs 19), rated as the No 1 fighter in the 168lbs division, will fight for the first time as World Champion on home turf after blowing away Hassan N’Dam in three rounds last time out on the Anthony Joshua-Andy Ruiz Jr undercard in New York in June.
Ambitious plans are in place for Smith to fight at the home of his beloved Liverpool FC in May next year, potentially a unification clash against fellow Matchroom man Billy Joe Saunders who successfully defended his WBO title in LA last week, but Smith isn’t getting carried away and insists his focus is firmly on Ryder next week.
“This fight is like every other fight in my career, they’ve always been must-win. I always wanted to be where I am now so any loss along the way would have derailed those plans. Now people are talking about 2020 and the massive names and the thought of Anfield. All of that disappears if I lose to John Ryder.
“It’s the same motivation that I’ve always had. I always want more and I’m always wanting to see what’s next. This fight is no different, a win over Ryder opens the door for possible huge fights in 2020. A loss to Ryder and they all disappear and I become a challenger again and I join the queue. It’s a must-win fight for me and that’s all I need. As long as I’ve got a World title I’m in a very good position.”
Callum Smith Meets Ryder In Liverpool
Callum Smith will defend his WBA World, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine Super-Middleweight titles against WBA mandatory challenger John Ryder at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool on Saturday November 23, shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US.
Smith (26-0, 19 KOs) landed the WBA World title and was crowned World Boxing Super Series Champion following a stunning seventh round knockout victory over British rival George Groves in Saudi Arabia last September – a win that also saw the Liverpudlian claim the vacant Ring Championship.
He put those titles on the line for the first time against two-time Olympian and former Middleweight World ruler Hassan N’Dam on his US debut at Madison Square Garden in New York earlier this year, flooring the French-Cameroonian three times in three rounds as he delivered a clinical display.
‘Mundo’ returns home to fight in his native Liverpool for the first time since outpointing Sweden’s Erik Skoglund in September 2017 knowing that a win over his fellow Brit Ryder is vital if he is to secure a dream fight at Anfield next year.
Ryder (28-4, 16 KOs) earned the number-one ranking with the WBA with a seventh round technical knockout win against previously undefeated Russian Andrey Sirotkin in their final eliminator clash at the Copper Box Arena in London last October.
‘The Gorilla’ stopped Bilal Akkawy to win the vacant interim WBA Super-Middleweight title last time out on the undercard of Saul Alvarez-Daniel Jacobs at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and in doing so kept himself in line for Smith’s crown.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to return to Liverpool as World Champion to defend my titles,” said Smith. “It’s always been a dream of mine to bring World Championship boxing to the city and hopefully this is the first of a big run of fights here.
‘My last three fights have been on the road in Germany, Saudi Arabia and New York and whilst they have been incredible experiences, there is nothing quite like a big fight night in Liverpool. It’s also pleasing that I get to be involved in a domestic fight against a tough opponent in John Ryder.
“He has fought his way to mandatory challenger and is on a big run of knockout wins that make him full of confidence. I’m working hard in camp to be at my best and make a statement as we head into a huge 2020. Right now the focus is on Ryder and defending my belts in style in my city on November 23.”
“I’m buzzing to be fighting for the full World title,” said Ryder. “I’ve worked hard to get myself into the mandatory position and keep myself there. I feel like I’m in the form of my life and this opportunity has come at the perfect time. Callum Smith is a great opponent and a great champion but I feel unbeatable at the moment.
“He’s an undefeated World Champion and he hasn’t put a foot out of line so far, so I know what I’m up against on November 23. With the form that I’m in now, I believe that I can beat anyone. I’m confident that I’ll get it right on the night and get the victory.
“People will see me beating Callum as a big upset but I don’t see it like that. I believe that I’ve got the ability to win and that’s what I plan to do. This is the chance that I’ve taken. I’m heading into the lion’s den to get the win and shatter his Anfield dreams.”
“I always love coming to Liverpool but when one of their own headlines in a World title fight, there’s nothing quite like it,” said Eddie Hearn. “I’m so happy Callum gets this chance to return to the city as champion in a brilliant domestic fight. Callum has established himself as the number 1 Super-Middleweight on the planet right now and John Ryder is on a brilliant run that has seen him become the WBA interim champ and the mandatory challenger. It’s Liverpool vs. London in what I expect to be an intriguing fight for the 168 marbles.”
Adam Smith, Head of Sky Sports Boxing, said: “Callum Smith returns to Liverpool as the world’s best Super-Middleweight for an exciting domestic clash against John Ryder, who is in red-hot form.
“It’s brilliant to have Smith back on Sky Sports, in one of the pivotal nights in our stacked boxing schedule. An Anfield night could lie ahead for him, but Ryder has really transformed his fortunes in recent months and has earned his shot at a World title.
“We’re expecting another electric atmosphere on November 23 in Smith’s home city, a thriving hotbed for sport as Liverpool target the Premier League title.”
Smith vs. Ryder tops a huge night of action in Liverpool.
Craig Glover (10-2, 8 KOs) takes on Chris Billam-Smith (9-1, 8 KOs) for the vacant Commonwealth Cruiserweight title, Anthony Fowler (10-1, 8 KOs) meets Harry Scarff (8-0, 1 KO) for the WBA International Super-Welterweight title, James Tennyson (25-3, 21 KOs) and Craig Evans (20-2-2, 3 KOs) square-off in a final eliminator for the British Lightweight title, Tom Farrell (17-2, 5 KOs) clashes with Sean Dodd (16-5-1, 3 KOs) in a must-win encounter for both men, Liverpool Light-Heavyweight talent Thomas Whittaker-Hart (3-0, 1 KO) aims to end his first year as a pro in style and Liverpool Super-Lightweight Marcus Molloy (1-0) and Skelmersdale Welterweight Tom Aitchson (1-0) both go for their second win in the pro ranks.