Callum Smith wins by unanimous decision over Erik Skoglund in World Boxing Super Series
Last Updated: 17/09/17 9:13am
Callum Smith set the British super-middleweight ball rolling with an entertaining unanimous decision win over Erik Skoglund in the World Boxing Super Series opener in Liverpool, on Saturday night.
The undefeated 27-year-old put the Swedish visitor down in the 11th round ensuring he brushed aside a nine-month lay-off and gave the Echo Arena plenty to celebrate, comfortably taking the decision 116-111, 117-110, 117-111.
With rivals Chris Eubank Jr and number one seed George Groves in action on October 7 and 14 respectively, Smith was the first to lay down a marker and move into the semi-finals, picking up the WBC Diamond belt with the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy the ultimate prize.
A lively opening round saw them both land, Smith a sharp combination ending with a sharp left hook and Skoglund proving he is a clever counter-puncher, his right catching the home fighter twice.
It settled down in the second but Smith started to show his attacking array and in the third, a left uppercut was followed by a concise right, while another straight right caught the Swede, whose accuracy was slightly off.
The pair traded punches again at the start of the next before the Liverpudlian landed a straight right and a shorter shot, sending Skoglund into a corner, clearly in trouble. But the underdog fought back and the fifth saw his own right land three times, one an uppercut, leaving Smith's nose blooded.
The halfway mark saw roles reversed, with Skoglund pushing forward and Smith happy to stay behind the jab but by the time the seventh round finished, the Swede's straight left had pierced several holes and his confidence had clearly grown.
Smith's single right was the highlight of a tit-for-tat eighth but with the Echo Arena crowd engrossed, the eighth finally saw him live up to expectations, with a simple right, a typically swift combination then a heavy left to the body, reminding Skoglund he is the former European champion and WBC number one challenger.
The same left followed an uppercut in the 10th and although the Swede fought back bravely, he began to unravel in the decisive penultimate round. An arrowing counter from Smith had him stumbling away before a left hook saw him go down on one knee, making it up at six, but obviously in trouble.
Smith then fired a left-right as he had him trapped on the ropes, but perhaps knowing the knockdown alone was enough to guarantee a semi-final showdown with Juergen Braehmer or Rob Brant, he was happy to go to the championship distance for only the third time in his career.
"I felt apart from one or two rounds I felt comfortable and thought I deserved it," he told ITV Sport.
"I always said I was the better man, better technically and people would see a side of me they haven't seen. I have just beaten a very good fighter on the back foot, using my skills and showed again that late in a fight, I've still got power."
Martin Murray took another step towards his fifth world-title challenge, stopping Arman Torosyan in the fifth round of the chief support contest.
The St Helens super-middleweight believes he can get back to challenge at super-middleweight and made it three wins in a rows with a dominate display.
With Jamie Moore in his corner while usual trainer Oliver Harrison recovers from illness, Murray was in complete control, his non-stop pressure causing Torosyan problems from the start.
His familiar right slowly but surely broke the Armenian down, a classic overhand landing flush in the third round before a vicious bodyshot finishing it off in style in the fifth.
Another super-middleweight fight saw Zach Parker earn a shot at the British title after stopping Luke Blackledge in the first round.
The 23-year-old floored Blackledge with a cracking, short left and although he got to his feet he was unable to continue, leaving Parker (13-0-KO10) waiting to see the winner between champion Rocky Fielding and David Brophy, back at the Echo Arena, on September 30, live on Sky Sports.