Q: How are the rest of the Fighting Smiths?
PS: All good. Liam’s fighting Friday night as well while Stephen’s having a bit of time out because he’s just had a baby lad, little Frankie. He’s also using the time to get an operation done on his ear which kept bursting and needed rebuilding.
He’s rated number three by the WBO at super-featherweight and, the way things are panning out, could be mandatory pretty quickly. Hopefully, he’ll be back out in a six rounder in December.
Our Callum has just turned pro. He’s very talented; a 6ft 3in super- middleweight who can box at range and mix it up inside. Despite his height, he’s a strong lump.
Q: You’ve been working with coach Joe Gallagher for the last year or so and were quick to shield him from any criticism following your defeat to Groves. What’s he been able to add?
PS: I really wish I’d gone to him about five years ago. Joe’s made for the way I fight and he’s made me realise the full potential of the fitness inside my body. He’s also got me comfortable fighting inside again – something I’d been good at while I was working with Billy Graham – which I’d lost a bit of confidence with.
Thanks to Joe, I never felt fitter than I did for the Groves fight and I already feel fitter for this six rounder on Friday than I did going into my championship fight with DeGale!
At Joe’s gym, I’m getting quality sparring, particularly with Callum Johnson, Hosea Burton and our Callum. I’m really buzzing again.
Q: You’ve spoken sporadically about returning to the middleweight division. What are your current thoughts?
PS: No. Super-middle’s my division. My ideal fighting weight is probably around 165, 166 (lbs) and I start to ‘take away’ if I try to drop below that. If they carried me on and off the scales, sure, I could probably still make 160 but there’s a big difference between making a weight and performing at it.
Q: Given your amateur achievements as a teenager, do you sense that you’re still to realise your full potential as a pro?
PS: Definitely. I still think I can get to world level. I’ve not had too many wars and I’ve never abused my body.
I’d have strongly fancied my chances in a crack at (ex WBO king) Robert Steiglitz who just got beat by Arthur Abraham. All you need is a chance.
But I have to be realistic. Though I’d love rematches with both Groves and DeGale to try to set the record straight, its pointless me calling them out after they’ve both beat me well, and I’ve done nothing since. Those matches can’t be made until I’ve at least won the British.
Q: What’s your assessment of Edinburgh’s Kenny Anderson, who recently picked up the vacant British title by stopping Robin Reid in five rounds last month
PS: Made for me. Kenny’s strong and a big puncher, no doubt, but he’s predictable. Whereas, stylewise, James DeGale was always likely to be a hard night, Anderson comes at you in straight lines and when you take those straight lines from him, his head goes. He’d not be hard to find and I’ve got the tools to frustrate him.
Q: Finally, what are you hoping to get out of Friday’s assignment against Belfast journeyman Tommy Tolan?
Basically, to get back on the horse and test my hands. Obviously I need a good win to persuade the Board to nominate me as the next mandatory to Anderson. Bizarrely, I’ve commentated on two of Tommy’s fights. He’s been in with some good kids.
I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of rounds of quality sparring so, despite the lay-off, I shouldn’t be too rusty. Some rounds wouldn’t do me any harm but, with my track record for cuts, I’ll be looking to get rid of him as quickly as possible.
November 5, 2012