Joshua vs Molina: Callum Smith defends British title with explosive knockout of Luke Blackledge
Last Updated: 11/12/16 4:24am
Callum Smith can look ahead to a world title fight next year after defending his British belt with a dramatic 10th round knockout win over Luke Blackledge.
The 26-year-old super-middleweight unloaded a huge left hook to end the brave resistance of Blackledge, who climbed up from two previous knockdowns at Manchester Arena.
Smith had already been lined up to face the winner of IBF champion James DeGale's unification clash with WBC title holder Badou Jack and his plans were not at risk in a one-sided win over Blackledge.
The Liverpudlian immediately stamped his authority in the first, landing an uppercut and a decent left to the body, which forced Blackledge to gasp for air.
Blackledge had been blown away by Rocky Fielding in a round, but was determined not be brushed aside again and withstood a brief barrage from Smith in the second.
The third round would signal a sustained attack from Smith, who dumped Blackledge heavily on the canvas with an overhand right.
Blackledge staggered through the remainder of that round and displayed his grit in the fourth, standing his ground while Smith lashed him with vicious left hooks.
But Blackledge's refusal to wilt seemed to frustrate Smith in the fifth and he was ticked off for a wayward punch before receiving a decent left hook from the Lancastrian.
With so much at stake, Smith seemed reluctant to take risks, and was held at bay in the seventh by Blackledge, who was docked a point for clinging on too long.
Blackledge could not hold off Smith for much longer and was bludgeoned to the canvas by the British champion in the eighth.
He clambered up from the canvas again, but Smith would signal the end of the fight with that huge left hook in the 10th.