With an offer sent by Frank Warren on the 6th June, Callum Smith and his team have reportedly turned down the chance to unify the WBA (Super) and WBO Super Middleweight Titles in what would have been a blockbuster of a fight.
Warren claims he offered a pay per view fight, a 50/50 split of the purse, and a seven figure guarantee for Smith.
This offer was allegedly flatly turned down, rather than negotiated.
Smith’s trainer, Joe Gallagher, confirmed in a video for Sky Sports, that the offer had been received, but it wasn’t the offer that would tempt Smith as “The World number one”. Gallagher had said that the money on offer wasn’t enough, and this had been agreed by him and Smith, without having to consult Callum’s promoter, Eddie Hearn.
This is disappointing news for domestic fight fans, especially as although it could be argued that Callum Smith is the “A” side of the fight, with the Ring Magazine Title also in his possession at 168 pounds, it’s a fight that would be big business.
Smith needs a breakout defence of his belts, and surely Saunders fits the bill.
“Mundo” won his Titles in September 2018, with a stunning stoppage win over the excellent George Groves. He has only defended once though since that night in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a three round blow out of the overmatched, blown up Middleweight, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in New York last month.
Smith has stated his desire to face Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and maybe this is what he is holding out for as a result of refusing Team Saunders’ offer. With Canelo without a partner for a September date, a fight between he and Smith would certainly be an intriguing one.
Saunders is of course now a two weight World Champion, following his tepid acquisition of the WBO Super Middleweight Title in May, with a wide points win over the bang average Shefat Isufi in Stevenage. This added to the WBO Title he won at Middleweight back in 2015 when he defeated Andy Lee. He infamously never lost the belt in the ring, after an adverse drug test forced him to relinquish the crown ahead of a meeting with Demetrius Andrade.
Billy Joe wasted no time in moving on from Smith though, taking to the ring in Kazakhstan last weekend on an MTK promoted show to call out Gennady Golovkin. “GGG” has other assignments on his mind though, as he hopes to be the one that faces Canelo in September.
What could more likely happen though is a homecoming defence for Smith, not likely to be against anyone of note, and a bill topping defence in the UK for Saunders, likely against a rank WBO contender.
This is a shame, especially as Smith’s number one contender for his WBA belt, Islington’s John Ryder, who holds the Interim version of the Title, is rumoured to be facing Chris Eubank Junior later in the year on an ITV pay per view offering.
According to Boxrec’s Super Middleweight ratings, the pickings are slim for both men if they stay at the weight.
Gilberto Ramirez is listed, but has moved to Light Heavyweight, Rocky Fielding, who Smith destroyed inside a round in 2015 is included in the top ten , as is Willie Monroe Junior, who Saunders handily outpointed in 2017.
Saunders is of course a natural Middleweight, but the options for him there are fraught with danger. Canelo holds WBC Franchise, IBF and WBA (Super) Titles, and winning his old belt back would involve meeting Demetrius Andrade, who seems to be improving with each fight. So an immediate foray in to World Title class is unlikely for him.
I feel the Smith v Saunders fight makes sense promotionally and financially. A massive platform and build up on BT Sport Box Office, and a sell-out venue such as the O2 or maybe even a stadium could make healthy revenue for the pair. Add to that the chance for more belts for the winner and for me it’s a no brainer. Although I would favour Smith to win due to his sheer size at the weight compared to Billy Joe.
With both promoted by sworn enemies, Warren and Hearn, this could be a tough one to get over the line, but the situation should become much clearer once we know who Canelo and Golovkin will face next up.