Skoglund invites Zlatan to be ringside for World Boxing Super Series clash
Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs) has invited countryman Zlatan Ibrahimovic to be ringside for his World Boxing Super Series quarter-final clash with Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) on Saturday night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
‘’Zlatan is a huge star in Sweden and a big inspiration for me, proving everything is possible,’’ said Skoglund.
‘’He has shown that someone from a relatively small country like Sweden can make it all the way to the top. He has conquered the world in football, and that is what I want to do in boxing. I know my team has invited him to come to the fight, and it would be an honour to have him ringside supporting me.’’
Ibrahimovic, one of football’s most colourful characters, took the English Premier League by storm last season, scoring 17 goals in 28 appearances and proving monumental in Manchester United’s successful Europa League and League Cup campaigns.
Skoglund hopes to enjoy similar success in England on Saturday when he faces Liverpool’s undefeated hometown hero Smith for the WBC World Diamond title and a place in the World Boxing Super Series semi-final.
‘’I’m looking forward to fighting in Liverpool,’’ he said. ‘’I’ve been fighting a lot lately in my hometown with all the pressure and expectations that come with that. In this fight, I’m the away fighter so all the pressure lies with Callum Smith and I can just concentrate on the fight and enjoy the evening.
‘’Of course, I’m confident but Callum is confident too. We’re both undefeated, we’re both hungry and that’s going to make for a great fight. On Saturday, I will fight my heart out to beat Callum and moving a step closer to the Muhammad Ali Trophy.’’
Smith: I am the best in the Ali Trophy tournament
Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) believes he will not only beat Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs) on Saturday in their quarter-final at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, but go all the way to take the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
The Liverpool fighter is the bookies’ and many experts favourite to take home the Ali Trophy next year in May. And 27-year-old Smith approves the odds.
“From the outside looking in, I am possibly not the obvious favourite because I am still relatively unproven at the highest level,” said Smith.
“You have George Groves who is a World Champion, who you could say could be favourite, he’ll probably be a bit annoyed that he is not.
“But from my point of view, yeah I think I am the best in the tournament so yes, I do agree with it. It is a privilege to be called the favourite, but it is just an opinion. I have to do my job now and go on and win it,” said Smith.
But first things first. On Saturday he faces 26-year-old Skoglund, the Swedish undefeated challenger.
“I have been enjoying camp, it has been going very well,” said Smith. “I know I have to be at my best to win. My trainer Joe Gallagher and I have watched Skoglund a lot, and he is a good fighter, he is a good all-rounder. He does the basics very well.”
“But everything he does, I do a little better. As long as the best version of me turns up, I will beat the best version of him,” said Smith.
“I am excited to be the first British fighter to get in the ring in the tournament. I just cannot wait to be a part of it. I think the fans will be thinking the same, with me being the first Briton in it, it will probably be their first look at the tournament. So I am not feeling pressure, more excitement.”
“I will win this fight, I always predict a win. If I can catch Skoglund and get him out of there it is a bonus, but I have been preparing for 12 tough rounds.”
Kessler picks Skoglund to defeat Callum Smith
Former five-time World Champion Mikkel Kessler believes Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs) will upset the odds and defeat hometown hero Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) on September 16 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Smith and Skoglund go head-to-head in the first super middleweight quarter-final of the World Boxing Super Series, and having previously sparred Skoglund, Kessler is backing the Swedish fighter to progress to the semi-finals.
“I remember those sparring sessions we had four years ago before my second fight with Carl Froch, and Erik has developed a lot since then”, said Kessler.
“I have watched quite a lot of Smith, he’s very big for the weight and he’s a great fighter, but if Erik employs the right tactics, he has an excellent chance of winning. He must believe in himself and not be affected by Callum having the whole city of Liverpool backing him.”
Kessler has recently enjoyed some tough sparring sessions with Skoglund ahead of his own hotly anticipated comeback, and the Danish legend reveals that the Swedish underdog has all the necessary tools to cause an upset.
“Erik did well in the sparring with me and he is certainly in very good shape. Make no mistake about Erik, he is a very tough guy.
“It’s good to be underdog”, said Kessler. “The main thing is that Erik needs to believe in himself. I believe in him and I will be rooting for him.
“I really believe that Erik will win this fight!”
Tickets are on sale now priced £35, £40, £60, £80, £100, £150, £200 and £350 (VIP) via Liverpool Echo Arena.
Face value tickets are also available from www.stubhub.co.uk. StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of the World Boxing Super Series.
16/09/17 – Super Middleweight Quarter-Final:
Callum Smith vs. Erik Skoglund (WBC Diamond)
Echo Arena, Liverpool, United Kingdom
23/09/17 – Cruiserweight Quarter-Final:
Yunier Dorticos vs. Dmitry Kudryashov (WBA World)
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, USA
30/09/17 – Cruiserweight Quarter-Final:
Mairis Briedis vs. Mike Perez (WBC World)
Riga Arena, Riga, Latvia
07/10/17 – Super Middleweight Quarter-Final:
Chris Eubank Jr vs. Avni Yildirim (IBO World)
Hanns-Martin-Schleyer Halle, Stuttgart, Germany
14/10/17 – Super Middleweight Quarter-Final:
George Groves vs. Jamie Cox (WBA Super)
The SSE Arena, Wembley, London, United Kingdom
TO BE CONFIRMED
Murat Gassiev vs. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (IBF World)
Super Middleweight Quarter-Finals:
Juergen Braehmer vs. Rob Brant
WORLD BOXING SUPER SERIES AT A GLANCE
Number of participants: 16
Number of belts: 7
Number of world champions: 6
Number of former world champions: 3
Number of undefeated fighters: 9
Combined Record of participants: 423 wins, 17 losses, 294 KOs