At the age of 21 and with just 34 pro rounds on his perfect 8-0 (4) slate, Harrow Weald super-featherweight Mitchell Smith is already honing in on the major titles.
If the former ABA champion’s talent is incontestable, his application has been rather less so. But following a wake-up call in his first 10 rounder against Scott Moises last September, ‘the Baby Faced Assassin’ began to get his act together.
The improvements were patently evident in his last gig when he emphatically re-established his standing among the most gifted and most exciting prospects in Britain by destroying Welshman Mark Evans (unbeaten in ten) inside two rounds at The York Hall.
Already tenant of the Southern Area belt, mighty Mitchell looks to upgrade his status to English champion on Wednesday evening, when he returns to Bethnal Green to confront undefeated Hartlepool southpaw Peter Cope over ten rounds. True to type, Smith predicts the fight will last significantly less!
Watch the whole show live and exclusive – headlined by Frank Buglioni’s comeback against Sam Couzens but also featuring a host of quality prospects – by tuning into BoxNation, the Channel of Champions from 7pm Wednesday evening on Sky Ch.437 (HD490)/Virgin Ch. 546.
Glynn Evans renewed acquaintance with the frighteningly assured north Londoner to discuss recent developments.
Last September you laboured to squeeze past Norfolk’s Scott Moises whilst winning the Southern Area title by a point over ten rounds at the Copper Box.
How do you account for that performance? What did you correct that enabled you to destroy Holyhead’s previously unbeaten Mark Evans in two rounds at the York Hall in your last start?
I’ve just grown up in general. I’ve always trained hard at the gym but I wasn’t living right away from boxing. After fights, I’d be going out all the time and eating what I wanted. I wasn’t 100% a professional athlete. I was doing the weight poorly because, at a lower level, I’d been getting away with it.
Going into the fight with Scott Moises, it was on my mind that I’d done the weight wrong, and I thought I’d have to just edge the rounds. For my first 10 rounder, I should’ve been really strong but I had nothing in the tank, no gears.
Subsequently, I really dedicated my life to boxing in every aspect and I’m getting it right. I did the weight perfectly against Evans and you saw how strong and powerful I was. He was unbeaten with a good reputation but couldn’t live with me.
That was five months ago. In what areas have you focussed on improving in the gym with coach Jason Rowlands since we last saw you?
I’ve been working on becoming an even more heavy handed Mitchell Smith. I’ve been sparring good quality, bigger lads and, without embarrassing anybody, let’s just say I’ve been doing very, very well. Replace those 14 oz (sparring) gloves with eight ouncers and there’s a massive difference in the damage I can do.
Trust me, I’m gonna smash this kid Cope. Don’t blink Wednesday night because, when I land clean, the kid’ll be sparked on the floor!
When I first interviewed you before your pro debut in June 2012, you boldly informed me that you already felt capable of fighting for a British title. What qualities do you feel you possess that distinguish you as such an exceptional prospect?
It’s not really for me to blow my own trumpet. I’m happy to let the fans decide that. I just tell people to examine my performances. So far, I’ve had eight pro fights and I believe that I’ve given seven very good performances. And when I played back the tape of the fight with Moises, I felt I looked exceptional in parts of that one, as well.
Clearly, the crowds and the TV people like what I do. I suppose I’m perceived as a bit cocksure and I’m definitely exciting to watch. I deliver what the people want to see.
The likes of Liam Walsh, Gary Sykes and Stephen Smith make the 130lb division one of our strongest domestically. In your opinion, who is the best in the division and, stylistically, which one would be the best fit for Mitchell Smith down the line?
I’d say Stephen Smith is way out in front of the others. The others are all at domestic level and I feel that I’m ready to step into that, right now.
Stylistically, it makes no difference. I can outbox the boxers, out fight the scrappers. Gary Sykes just comes forward and slaps and it was a flick of a coin who got the better of it when Liam Walsh and I sparred two years ago. I’ve developed a lot since that.
It’s all about stepping through doors. I’ve stepped through the ABA door, stepped through the Southern Area door and on Wednesday night, I’ll step through the English title door and knock on the one that says British title. I believe I’m ready for that.
You’ve been embroiled in an amusing public spat with flamboyant fledgling pro Romeo Romaeo on the social media outlets. What is it about him that you dislike?
He’s just a young boy trying to build a name for himself off the reputations of others rather than through performances in the ring. He’s running before he can walk. He’s on Wednesday’s undercard, right? In a four rounder?! Says it all.
I find him very rude and ignorant. Spar him? I’d not give the boy the time of day but if and when we ever do get in the ring together, I guarantee I’ll properly smash him!
Part of your preparation took place over at Matt Macklin’s MGM Grand gym in Marbella, Spain. How has that benefitted you?
I spent eight days over there, trained three times a day, and got some quality southpaw sparring with Tom Stalker and an Irish lad called Declan Geraghty. Both are red hot. Marbella and the MGM complex there are lovely places to be. I’ll definitely be going there again it the future.
What emphasis do you place on the English belt which you contest on Wednesday evening?
It’s a natural stepping stone after the Southern Area but, for me, it’s more about winning, winning, winning than the belts. You train hard and live the life so that you can win. I’m not in the game to lose. I don’t do it. It’s not nice!
Opponent Peter Cope from Hartlepool is a young unbeaten southpaw who’ll come to the East End with plenty of ambition. What have you seen of him? What do you need to be mindful of and what flaws have you identified?
I understand Cope’s from a big boxing family. His dad is a coach and he also has a brother who boxes. I’ve bundles of respect for that. After we’re done, I’ll happily buy him a beer but, right now, we’re enemies! Unfortunately for him, I’m going to have to knock him out.
I’ve seen a few clips of Cope on the net. He’s quite game and comes to win so it should be a good fight for the fans while it lasts. I’m certainly not looking past him and I’m 100% focussed on this fight.
But I strongly believe that I’m a level above him, that I belong in the top five domestically and he doesn’t. He’s just a stage that I need to go through.
I’m not going to comment on his strengths and weaknesses before the fight cos I’m not going to give anything away. That’d be silly. All I’ll say is that he’s neither a better boxer nor a better fighter than me and I intend to beat him in style.
How do you expect the fight to evolve and why are you confident that Mitchell Smith will emerge as the new English champion?
I don’t know and don’t care how the fight pans out. If he tries to outbox me, I’ll make him look silly. If he comes for a tear up I’ll clip his chin and bid him: ‘Good night!’ I’m good enough to deal with whatever he brings to me.