Callum Smith sets up George Groves final in World Boxing Super Series
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 24/02/18 11:47pm
Callum Smith was taken to 12 rounds by late replacement Nieky Holzken before booking his place in the World Boxing Super Series final against George Groves.
The judges unanimously awarded Saturday's WBSS semi-final to Smith - 118-110, 117-111, 117-111 - and the Liverpudlian looks set to face Groves, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, in the final planned for June.
As expected, the unbeaten Smith earned the 24th win of his career in Nuremberg against Holzken, who is also a kickboxer and Muay Thai fighter.
The Dutch 34-year-old only took the WBSS super-middleweight semi-final bout after German boxer Jurgen Braehmer pulled out with a virus on Tuesday.
"It was disappointing not to face Braehmer," Smith said. "But it was about reaching the final with Groves, that's the fight I want.
"I look forward to it, he was the one I wanted to beat. The fight I wanted was Groves, I hope his shoulder is OK."
Groves, who was ringside, hopes to be ready for the final despite dislocating his shoulder 9j his unanimous points win against Chris Eubank Jr.
Holzken deserves credit for a gutsy display and landed a big right in the first round to give Smith food for thought.
There was more composure from the 27-year-old Smith in the second, but a right again caught the Englishman, who responded with a right uppercut, then took a counter left from Holzken in the third.
Smith started to exert his experience and class in the fourth, but found himself pinned to the ropes in the fifth when Holzken raised the tempo.
The Dutchman was more than holding his own as Smith kept probing with his jab, but Holzken soaked up the blows and showed impressive fitness over the 12 rounds.
Smith rocked Holzken in the 11th round and his defence was rock solid as the Dutchman grew increasingly desperate.
"He was tough but I landed a lot jabs and my hand hurts a little bit," Smith added.
"He was awkward, novicey but I'm not engaging in a shoot-out. I'm the better boxer."