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Callum Smith and Nieky Holzken make weight

By Tim Royner: Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs) weighed in at 167 ½ pounds for his fight with kick boxer Nieky Holzken (13-0, 10 KOs) for their match-up on Saturday night at the Arena Nürnberger Versicherung.

(Photo credit: World Boxing Super Series)

Holzken weighed 167 ½ lbs. Smith and Holzken will be competing in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament. The winner will fight George Groves or possibly a replacement for him if his injured left shoulder keeps him from taking part in the tournament.

German fighter Juergen Braehmer was supposed to be the opponent for Smith for this Saturday’s fight, but he pulled out of the fight this week due to an illness. Now that Braehmer has been replaced by Holzken, who comes from the Netherlands, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Smith-Holzken fight to take place in Germany. Smith is from the UK, and he likely doesn’t have a huge fan base in Germany.

It’s unclear how many German boxing fans have asked for ticket refunds now that Braehmer is out of the tournament. There’s no reason for those fans to come see the fight now that Braehmer has dropped out.

“I believe I am good enough to win this tournament,“ said Callum Smith.

Given that Callum Smith is now facing a 2nd tier fighter in Holzken and George Groves potentially not being able to fight in the finals of the tournament, you can argue that Smith has a very good chance of winning the tournament under these conditions. If Groves drops out of the WBSS tournament due to his shoulder injury and he’s replaced by a fighter like Holzken, Smith will have a great chance of winning the tournament. But by that point, the tournament will be a joke with many of the boxing fans. When the best fighters drop out due to injuries or illnesses, then you’re left with Callum Smith fighting the undeserving 2nd tier fighters.

A lot of the boxing fans have been wondering why the World Boxing Super Series organizers didn’t find a better replacement to step in to face Callum Smith than Holzken. For an important tournament like this one, it looks bad that they didn’t at least have a contender from the super middleweight division available to take the 39-year-old Braehmer’s place. Holzken is little more than a 13-fight novice, and old one at that at 34. Holzken isn’t ranked in the top 15 by any of the 4 sanctioning bodies.

That’s the troubling part about all of this. Holzken is an aging unranked fighter without a top 15 ranking, and no quality wins on his resume. One of the WBSS tournament organizers obviously had heard of himself somewhere, because they selected this 2nd tier guy instead of one of the talented super middleweight contenders. If this is all they could get then it’s sad, because it hurts the tournament to have an older unranked fighter used as a replacement.

In cases like this, the WBSS would have been better off giving Smith a bye and moved him ahead to the finals of the tournament instead of picking out a lower level fighter with no experience and throwing him in the ring with Smith. It looks bad, and it’s going to be bad for the boxing fans when Smith ends up massacring Holzken. Having Holzken take the place of Braehmer makes the World Boxing Super Series organizers look amateurish and unprepared. You can only speculate who the WBSS will pull in to replace George Groves if his shoulder injury keeps him from taking part in the finals. Unbelievably, Chris Eubank Jr’s name was mentioned as a viable option to replace Groves if he can’t fight in the tournament.

“Nieky is just another person standing in the way, and I am looking forward to putting on a good performance and get a good and convincing win,” Smith said. “My boxing ability, my skills, and my boxing brain will be far too much for Nieky. People can look forward to watching a good show.”

It’s too bad that Smith doesn’t have a good opponent for him to fight, because he’s not going to get a lot of attention from the boxing public for beating up on the 5’11 ½” Holzken. Smith is the No.2 seed in the World Boxing Super Series tournament behind #1 George Groves, and he needs to be fighting better opposition than this for him to be given proper credit. During the face off with Holzken, the 6’3” Smith looked like a giant next to him. Holzken is too small to be fighting in the 168 lb. weight class, and he looks like he doesn’t belong fighting a guy Smith’s size.

Holzken’s last 6 fights in his career have come against these obscure fighters:

• Viktor Polyakov

• Cagri Ernis

• Matingu Kindele

• Farouk Daku

• Yesilat Berkta

• Ahmed El Ghoulbzouri

• Mikheil Khutsishvili

Those are journeyman level fighters that Holzken has beaten in order to be used as a replacement opponent for Braehmer. It’s very surprising that the World Boxing Super Series organizers would pick out a fighter with such limited experience as Holzken to take the place of Braehmer. If this is all they could get, then they probably should have let Smith advance to the finals without bothering with Holzken.

“Nobody knows me and I am stepping up against a big champion. My dream is to become a world champion in boxing and kickboxing. I am 13-0 and after tomorrow I am 14-0 and after the final, I am 15-0, that’s my goal!” Holzken said.

If Holzken had some experience against top level opposition in the 168 lb. weight class, then it wouldn’t be such a big deal that he’s being picked out to replace a former world champion in Braehmer. But the fat of the matter is, Holzken is still at the prospect level and he’s being asked to face a top-level contender in Callum Smith. The result of a match-up like this with Smith facing a huge underdog in Holzken promises to be ugly. The only thing you can hope for is Holzken is at least able to go 12 rounds, because this match is likely to end early in the 1st or 2nd round on Saturday night.

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