Super middleweight contender Callum Smith was ringside at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday night to watch the world title unification fight between Badou Jack and James DeGale, knowing that the winner was obligated to fight him next in a mandatory fight.
And then Jack and DeGale fought to a draw in a wildly entertaining slugfest, leaving both with their belts and Smith as Jack’s mandatory challenger.
And then on Wednesday, Jack vacated his 168-pound title, saying he was moving up to light heavyweight after struggling to make weight.
So Smith (22-0, 17 KOs), 26, won’t get a shot at Jack for the title but will be ordered to fight for the vacant WBC version of the title, probably against former titleholder Anthony Dirrell, whom Jack outpointed for the belt in 2015.
"It's never been Badou Jack or James DeGale that I want to fight. It's the world title that I want. It doesn't matter to me who it is. Anthony Dirrell is the next in line and if it's him then great, let's do it."Callum Smith
The DeGale team could also offer Smith a fight for his version of the title. That would be big business in England, where they are both from.
Frankly, Smith doesn’t care who he fights for a world title as long as it’s his next bout.
“I said before the fight that I was in a good position and that's still the case -- my next fight is going to be for the world title, that hasn't changed,” Smith said. “A draw or a Jack win was always going to create an interesting scenario but the only thing I care about is fighting for the world title. A lot of people have backed me since Day 1 to win a world title and it's going to be great to get out next time and prove them right.
“It's never been Badou Jack or James DeGale that I want to fight. It's the world title that I want. It doesn't matter to me who it is. Anthony Dirrell is the next in line and if it's him then great, let's do it.”
Smith has been sitting in a mandatory position since April, when he annihilated Hadillah Mohoumadi in the first round of their final elimination bout in Smith’s hometown of Liverpool.
Smith has fought three times since, scoring knockouts in each bout, while patiently awaiting his title shot.
“It's taken me longer than I expected and I've had a few fights since getting the mandatory spot, but that's boxing,” Smith said. “I've built up a bank of experience. I've had a few more camps, kept to the weight and now whomever it is, I'm ready for them.
“If I'd boxed for it straight after beating Mohoumadi people would have said I was perfectly prepared but just because I've had a few fights perhaps down a level that doesn't mean I've not got even better. If I was to fight a so-called fringe-level fighter I would get criticized for not fighting for the world title, so I am happy for the way that my career has gone and I believe I'm in a good place to win a belt.”