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Smith-Fielding & Burns-King this Saturday

Ricky BurnsBy Scott Gilfoid: This Saturday night, #1 WBC, #13 IBF, #13 WBO super middleweight contender Callum Smith (17-0, 12 KOs) faces unbeaten #10 WBC, #10 WBA, #12 WBO Rocky Fielding (21-0, 12 KOs) in a 12 round fight for the vacant British 168lb title at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, UK.

Smith, 25, looked terrible in his last fight against Christopher Rebrasse last June in winning a 12 round decision. Smith won, but he was nailed constantly and was fortunate to get the win. That fight really lowered Smith’s stock in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans.

I mean, I knew Smith was a badly flawed fighter going into that fight, so it didn’t surprise me at all. I knew he was little more than a younger version of Paul Smith.

Fielding, 28, has all the advantages in this fight. He has the superior punching power, the better pro style, and the ability to throw shots from every angle. In contrast, Smith needs to be positioned directly in front of his opponents with his feet firmly planted on the ground for him to connect on his shots.

This is an important fight for both guys, especially the stork-like 6’3” Smith, because he’s ranked No.1 by the World Boxing Council and is within a couple of fights from getting a crack at WBC super middleweight champion Badou Jack. Smith will still need to wait a while though for his title shot because Badou just finished beating his #1 WBC mandatory challenger George Groves in his last fight in September.

Badou will now no doubt be taking two voluntary defenses starting in 2016, and he’ll be ready to defend against Smith or whoever his #1 WBC mandatory challenger is by 2017. I don’t see Smith or Fielding getting a crack at Badou’s title until 2017 at the earliest.

In the co-feature bout, the 32-year-old former two division world champion Ricky Burns (38-5-1, 12 KOs) tries to keep his sagging career alive with a 10 round fight against little known Australian Josh King (20-3, 9 KOs) for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental lightweight title.

Burns’ promoter Eddie Hearn has him matched against someone that he can actually beat in King, but it doesn’t matter though. Burns wants to win a world title, and he’s going to be in trouble when he gets put in with a talent like WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares. I think Hearns is going to look to match Burns against WBO champion Terry Flanagan once Burns picks up a top 15 ranking with the WBO.

Right now, he’s not ranked, so that prevents him from getting a title shot because the WBO requires their champions to fight top 15 contenders.

Burns is kind of in the last chance saloon right now. He’s been beaten 3 out of his last five fights, and he hasn’t beaten a quality fighter since his win over Jose Gonzalez in 2013. Burns has been beaten by Dejan Zlaticanin, Omar Figueroa Jr, Prince Ofotsu and arguably beaten by Raymundo Beltran.

Some boxing fans think Burns still has something left in the tank, but that depends on what you’re looking at. If you think Burns has something left in the tank to compete with some of the bottom dwellers in the lightweight division, then I agree with that. But if you think Burns has something left and can beat the top contenders and champions in the lightweight division, then I don’t agree with that at all.


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