World Boxing Super Series: Callum Smith aims for superstar status in tournament

Callum Smith trains with Manchester-based Joe Gallagher and is unbeaten in 22 fights
Callum Smith trains with Manchester-based Joe Gallagher and is unbeaten in 22 fights
World Boxing Super Series: Super-middleweights
Bout: Callum Smith v Erik Skoglund Venue: Liverpool Echo Arena
Date: 16 September Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Callum Smith hopes the World Boxing Super Series can elevate him to superstar status.

Smith, 27, opens the super-middleweight competition against Sweden's Erik Skoglund on Saturday in his home city at Liverpool's Echo Arena.

He joins compatriots George Groves, Jamie Cox and Chris Eubank Jr in the tournament, creating the prospect of an all-British final next year.

"I view it as a big opportunity to make a name for myself," said Smith.

"These fights could make me a household name and a superstar in the sport. I believe I'm more than capable of becoming the best in the division and winning this tournament can only help me get there."

Groves is the WBA super-middleweight world champion in the draw, and Smith passed up a fight with American Anthony Dirrell for the vacant WBC crown before signing up to participate in the new event, which features a straight knockout format.

Smith knows three wins would see him lift the Muhammad Ali trophy given to the WBSS winner
Smith knows three wins would see him lift the Muhammad Ali trophy given to the WBSS winner

"I'm happy that I've got a second chance at a world title through this tournament," said the unbeaten former British and European champion, who has an unblemished 22-fight record with 17 knockouts.

"To hold a world title is every fighter's dream but I felt this tournament had more to offer with three guaranteed fights if I do my job and keep winning."

'This could be great for the sport'

Smith was able to pick Skoglund as an opponent due to his status as one of the four seeded fighters in the draw
Smith was able to pick Skoglund as an opponent due to his status as one of the four seeded fighters in the draw

The World Boxing Super Series, created by German promoters Sauerland and Ringstar Sports' Richard Schaefer, hopes to make a telling mark in the sport.

That was evident to Smith when he travelled to Monaco for the official draw in July.

"It was different to your standard news conference - it had a bit of glamour and showbiz," said Smith.

"We didn't rehearse anything; it was completely random. We were told to have two picks in mind just in case our preferred pick was chosen ahead of you.

"So if Groves had picked Skoglund first, I would have had to go with another fighter."

Luckily for Smith, Groves picked Swindon's Cox and they will fight on 14 October at London's Wembley Arena.

Eubank Jr. fights the sizeable unbeaten Turk Avni Yildirim in Stuttgart prior to that contest with former light-heavyweight world champion Juergen Braehmer completing the quarter-final line-up against American Rob Brant.

Groves' world title will be on the line during his matches in the tournament, so reaching and winning the final would guarantee world champion status.

"This could be great for the sport," added Smith. "A lot of the current champions avoid each other because of politics but if people enter this tournament, then the fights have got to happen. I definitely see room for more tournaments in the future."

Swede Skoglund stands in Smith's way for a semi-final spot. Skoglund is an unbeaten former campaigner at light-heavyweight and has fought outside of his homeland in Austria, Germany and Finland.

"I won't underestimate him because he's 26-0 for a reason but I think I will beat him in every department," said Smith.

"I expect this to be a tough fight and I have trained for 12 rounds but if I hurt him early, I can definitely kick him out of the ring when I get the chance."