Mitchell Smith: Iím not an average fighter, I will step up.
Mitchell Smith, (7-0, 3 KOs), streaked through 2012 with the style and panache expected of a future star. Barely a month seemed to pass without ĎThe Baby Faced Assassiní enhancing his reputation with another impressive victory.
Smith may have ended 2013 as the Southern Area super featherweight champion but, on the whole, it was a frustrating twelve months for the 21-year-old.
ďIt was slow,Ē Smith told Livefight. ďObviously 2012 was blinding. I boxed five times in six months and twice in one week at one point. 2013 was slow for me though. I got set back a few times through injury. I pulled a muscle in my stomach two weeks before one fight and then, in November, I broke my left hand in sparring.
ďIíve never been set back as much as I was last year. It was very frustrating because the injuries were all towards the end of camps. Iíd done all the hard work, it was just the final preparation when it went wrong. It was gutting really. Financially as well. You donít get paid if you donít fight. ď
Smith bounces straight back into action with a real test. Welsh champion Mark Evans, (9-0-1, 1 KO), will be the man in the opposite corner at the York Hall this Saturday night and, regardless of the physical qualities he possesses, it is the ambition of an unbeaten fighter that ensures this will be Smithís toughest task to date.
ďI donít want warm up fights. I donít wanna go back to journeymen. I mentioned a few names and they came back with Mark Evans. Iím happy with the opponent. Heís undefeated and the Welsh champion. Itís a step up in class for me. Itís a perfect fight for me and I believe Iíll show my class and itíll open up peoples eyes and see what I can do because the Scott Moises fight [last time out] wasnít a great performance [from me].Ē
The Moises fight provided Smith with plenty of new experiences to deal with both in and out of the ring. He left the ring with his first professional title strapped around his waist but, having had things his own way until that point Smith met resistance from both the scales and his opponent.
ďI think Moises will make a lot of people look ordinary,Ē he says. ďItís a very awkward style to get on to and get the work done. Even when you do get close heís got such long arms and elbows that when you try and whip them around the body, you just canít get in to him. Heís fighting Luke Campbell next and I personally think heíll cause Luke problems.
ďIt was also my first ten rounder and people need to remember that Iíd never been into round five before. To do ten was a big step up. You donít get that fitness in the gym, it takes years to build up. You havenít got the nervous energy before you get in there. I think Mark Evans will be looking at that performance and thinking he has a chance to beat me. Another thing, I hadnít made 9st 4lbs Ė or even close to it Ė since I won the ABAís in 2011. It was a few things that added up and now Iíve got everything on track. Iíve started to become that proper, professional athlete. Talent was only gonna get me so far.
ďIím looking forward to a big year. I wanna show that I am the fighter people think I am. Iím not an average fighter. I will step up and show that I can go on to big things.Ē
It says a lot for Smithís ambition that, even at just 21 years old, you can sense a real desire to make up for what he feels is lost time. The Southern Area title is an ideal first step but thatís exactly how Mitchell sees it. He isnít spending every waking moment studying potential future opponents but is beginning to put together a route to the top.
ďObviously Iíve heard of John Kays because heís the English champion,Ē he says. ďThatís what I want. Iím the Southern Area champion and thatís the next step up. Itís a fight I will want eventually. I know I can beat all of them out there. Itís just timing. I donít think itíll be very long before I have the English title.Ē
A few remaining tickets are available from Queensberry Promotions on 01992 550 888. Doors will open at 5pm with the first fight at 5.30pm.
Watch Conquest v Ammann, plus an action-packed undercard featuring hot prospects Mitchell Smith and Tom Baker, on BoxNation, the Channel of Champions from 7pm on Saturday night. (Sky Ch.437/449 HD, Virgin Ch.546). Join at www.boxnation.com