Callum Smith dominated Nikola Sjekloca over 12 rounds to successfully move ahead in the rankings via a world title eliminator at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Smith hurt Sjekloca to the body in the fifth and threatened to add to his 11 stoppage wins, but the experienced Montenegrin kept the Liverpool talent at bay, with the judges scoring the fight 118-111, 118-110 and 120-108.
Callum Smith: “My Nan passed away last week and she would’ve been 80 tonight. It was a tough week but going to the gym and getting away from it all maybe helped.
“He’s been to points twice with Bika and Abraham but I hurt him with body shots and that shows I can hurt some good fighters. It’s another box ticked with the 12 rounds under the belt.”
Carl Froch on Callum Smith: “It was a nice test for him, a test of what it’s like to fight at the top level. He knew he wasn’t going to blast him away so he learnt a lot tonight, learnt how to pace a fight, fight within yourself knowing that you are likely to have to go the full distance. It’s the first time he’s done that distance, that’s a huge moment in your career.
“He’s 24 year’s old and had 15 fights – it’s the perfect step at the right time. He needs a couple more fights at this sort of level to get to that World title level, but he’ll grow so much from this.
“I’ve sparred many rounds with this lad, he’s only going to go from strength-to-strength – he will be mixing it with the best very soon.”