It’s 9-years ago today that Stephen Smith claimed his Commonwealth Gold medal in Melbourne a reality the fighter summed it up nicely when he tweeted, “Scary how time flies, but great memories”.
Smith, 20-1 (12KO’s), will make his return to professional action on Saturday night on the exciting Kell Brook v Jo Jo Dan undercard, looking to put on an empathic performance to lay to rest a difficult few months he will be looking to forget – professionally at least.
One fourth of the impressive Smith Brothers, ‘Swifty’ was on the verge emulating older brother Paul in challenging for a world title, following a string of impressive victories, punctuated by his demolition of the durable Gary Buckland followed by the collection of the WBC Silver Super Featherweight title.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for the likable 29-year old, who instead of meeting rock hard Japanese WBC champion Takashi Miura for his chance of glory, was consigned to the gym, the victim of a series of injuries, which were rarely publicised.
This has to be the most difficult aspect of the sport for any fighter, let alone one who belongs to the dominant promotional stable in the UK, not to mention a member of the most successful boxing family currently active within British boxing.
It’s easy to be forgotten.
Thankfully, this is not the case for Stephen Smith who retains the support of his promoter Eddie Hearn who has been vocal on social media in recent days about his commitment to guiding Stephen to world honours at super featherweight, be that the WBC route or otherwise.
But first he must perform and top of the list is Jacek Wylezol, 11-8 (6KO’s), who lost a unanimous decision over 6 rounds to big punching lightweight prospect Ohara Davies this past week in Rostock, Germany. Smith will be looking to improve upon the effort of his promotional stable mate and if he can halt the heavier Pole inside the distance, it will be a real statement of intent.
If Smith can continue to deliver, he will get his World title shot. Whether that will mean Takashi Miura (who defends his WBC title in May against Billy Dib) for the WBC title or a fight for the vacant IBF (Rances Barthelemy recently vacated the title to operate at lightweight) title remains in the hands of Eddie Hearn, who very rarely reneges on a promise to a fighter.
The good thing for the British fans he’s healthy, flying in the gym and setting his sights on celebrating his next anniversary with a new piece of jewellery.