Dalton Smith: Hand wraps and weight cuts influence professional switch

Smith will work under Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn
Smith will work under Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn

Hand-wrapping and weight-cutting proved influential as Dalton Smith swapped hope of competing at the Tokyo Olympics for life in the professional ranks.

The 22-year-old, who has spent five years in the prestigious GB Boxing set-up in Sheffield, signed a deal to fight for Matchroom Sport on Thursday.

Sheffield's most successful amateur expects to make his debut in May.

"My goal is to be a world champion, maybe in multiple weights," Smith told BBC Sport. "I have time on my side."

Smith still had eyes on an Olympic place before Christmas but rules introduced late in 2018 will lead to amended weight categories at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The changes mean Smith would need to make 63kg on every day of competition at the Games, prompting an agreement with his father and trainer Grant to fast-track a professional move.

"In amateurs you have to make weight every day you fight which could be five days in a week," he said.

"The weight-dropping from 64kg to 63kg doesn't sound much but I'm big for a light-welterweight and making that every day would have been a struggle for me.

"It's just a nightmare and when you're making a weight and not comfortable, your performances are not there. The Olympics was a goal for so many years but it's kind of taken away now and I have to focus on the positives."

Professional plaster work

Smith has shared x-rays of his hand surgeries and such injuries played a role in his pro switch
Smith has shared x-rays of his hand surgeries and such injuries played a role in his pro switch

Smith earned medals at Junior European Championship level and at the youth Commonwealth Games during his time with the GB squad.

In half a decade with the team he trained with Olympic medallists Joe Joyce and Joshua Buatsi - both of whom are now professional - and was taken to the 2016 Olympics as a training partner.

Alongside GB duties - which ran Monday to Thursday - he worked under his father, who brought him and his two sisters up as a single-parent, and who also trains WBC world flyweight champion Charlie Edwards.

Injury frustrations during recent years have proven significant in the decision to follow Edwards into the paid ranks.

"In the amateurs you get a four-metre bandage as your wraps which isn't much protection," Smith explained. "As a pro you get tape, gauze and can wrap your hands like plaster really.

"In the last two years I have had three hand operations due to the lack of protection in the amateurs. It was to frustrating in the end. So me and my dad sat down and thought about the long run and turning professional is ideal from an injury-prevention perspective.

"My dad is a perfectionist. I wouldn't have anyone else guiding my career and I've seen Charlie so I know what it takes to be a world champion.

"Charlie is like a workhorse, it's like he's bulletproof. It's so good being around people like that and if I keep my head down I believe I can be a world champion one day."

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