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Zeuge vs. Smith: Bellew defends Paul from criticism

Paul Smith Tony Bellew

By Scott Gilfoid: Tony Bellew doesn’t think that former 2-time world title challenger Paul Smith (38-6, 22 KOs) should be receiving criticism from the boxing public for him getting a third world title shot this Saturday night against WBA World super middleweight champion Tyron Zeuge (20-0-1, 11 KOs) on June 17 at the Rittal Arena in Wetzlar, Hessen, Germany.

Bellew said that the 34-yer-old Smith did the right thing in accepting the fight, which was offered to him by Zeuge’s promoters. They felt that Smith was a good choice for their champion Zeuge to defend his title against. Smith was recently given a No.5 ranking by the World Boxing Association after he lost 3 out of his last 6 fights. That’s kind of strange thing the WBA did in ranking Smith in the top 5 after he lost 3 out of his last 6 fights. But that’s the same sanctioning body that has Shannon Briggs ranked No.3 at heavyweight and Hassan N’Dam ranked No1 at middleweight above Danny Jacobs and David Lemieux. N’Dam lost to Lemieux. It’s odd the way the WBA ranks fighters.

”If someone offers you an opportunity in this sport, you cannot say no, it’s as simple as that,” said Bellew to ”People might not like the fact that he’s got another world title fight. I’ve seen a lot of people on the internet and social media saying that, but what’s the lad supposed to do? He’s got a family to feed and he needs the fight.”

Well, Bellew is looking at it from Smith’s perspective. He’s not looking at it from the average fan perspective. The fans see boxing as a sport where you’re given opportunities based on achievement. In other sports, you have to achieve to be given the top spots or the chances to be in the championship games. In the case of the Zeuge-Smith fight, everything is turned upside down with the 34-year-old Paul Smith getting a world title shot after FAILING to achieve.

Naturally, the boxing fans are going to be upset at this kind of thing, because it arguably makes a mockery of the sport. If you’re given title shots after losing 3 out of the last 6 fights, then it looks bad. The average fan has to work his backside off in their jobs. They can’t sit in the backroom and play cards for 8 hours a day and then be given a raise by their boss.

They’ve got to work hard. Smith didn’t do much of anything to get his No.5 ranking and his title shot against Zeuge other than beat 3 little known JOURNEYMEN in his last 3 fights. Some fans are already upset that Smith was given 2 world title shot against former WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham in 2014 and 2015. Who precisely did Paul Smith to get those 2 title shots?

Smith beat these guys to get his title shots against Abraham:

– David Sarabia (7-3-2)

– Jamie Amber (10-52-2)

– Tony Dodson (29-7-1)

– Tommy Tolan (4-12-1)
Those records of Smith’s 4 above mentioned opponents are not a mistake. Those are the records that these fighters had when Paul Smith fought them. It’s fine that Smith fought guys like that. At least he found someone he could beat. But what isn’t fine is the fact that Smith was given TWO world title shots back to back against the German Arthur Abraham based off those 4 wins. That’s troubling, because it suggests that you don’t have to achieve in the sport to get a crack at a world championship. Like I said, it’s the opposite of what you see in other sports, and it’s definitely the opposite of what you would see in life.

So, having Paul Smith at No.5 is in keeping with the way the WBA ranks contenders. It’s almost as if the WBA’s rankings are upside down. Fighters like Smith, N’Dam and Briggs should arguably be ranked at the bottom of the WBA’s rankings rather than near the top, but that’s me. I see things from a common sense standpoint. I rank fighters based on wins over QUALITY opposition, not wins over DREADFUL fodder opposition. As far as Paul Smith, I have him ranked at No.100 in the division. Smith doesn’t make Boxing News 24’s top 15, top 25 or even top 75.

Smith would make the top 15 if he actually beat some talented fighters for a change. But these are the 3 times that that Smith has beaten since his three consecutive losses to Andre Ward and Arthur Abraham:

– Daniel Regi (28-13)

– Barthlomiej Grafka (17-20-3)

– Bronislav Kubin (18-18-2)

I must say I really like the records of those three fighters. Smith has been trying hard lately, hasn’t he? He’s got 3 straight wins over 3rd tier opposition, and now the WBA has given Smith a No.5 ranking, presumably because of his recent wins over the above lot. Zeuge’s promoters then decide that Paul Smith has earned the right to fight their fighter Zeuge, so they give him a title shot instead of someone more deserving like David Benavidez.

”They have looked at Paul as a suitable opponent for Tyron Zeuge and they have chosen him. It’s a fight that I think Paul can win and it’s one that I hope he does,” said Bellew in talking about Tyron Zeuge’s promoters believing Paul Smith to be a “suitable opponent” for their fighter to defend his title against.

Zeuge’s promoters obviously has some criteria that they’re looking for when choosing opposition. You’d like to think that they selected Paul Smith based on him being rated highly by the World Boxing Association. I believe that Zeuge’s promoters likely selected Smith because of these reasons:

1. He’s ranked highly by the WBA at number 5.

2. Smith isn’t a threat to beat Zeuge due to his advanced age, stamina problems, chin problems and his average boxing skills. This is a big key area for why Paul Smith likely was given the world title shot against Zeuge. If Smith had the punching power of #4 WBA David Benavidez, I don’t think for a second that he would be considered for a fight with Zeuge. Benavidez is one of those fighters that doesn’t allow judges to score his fights most of the time. Benavidez (18-0 17 KOs) has knocked out 17 of his 18 opponents he’s faced during his short career. As such, you can have Benavidez traveling to Germany and doing well regardless of how the judges are scoring his fights, because their scores will most likely be meaningless due to his punching power having the final say in the outcome of the fight. We’ve already seen that Zeuge isn’t a great talent. His 2 fights against Giovanni De Carolis showed clearly that Zeuge has no power, and is a knockout waiting to happen once he gets inside the ring with a KO artist like Benavidez.

3. Paul Smith being an opponent that will sell tickets in Germany due to him being a recognizable name with the casual boxing fans. The German fans will likely still remember Smith from his 2 losses to Arthur Abraham in the past.

4. Choosing Smith keeps the promotional ties between Zeuge’s promoter and Smith’s promoter at Matchroom Sport going strong. Zeuge didn’t have to make this fight, but they did it anyway. It’s obviously a good deal to keep promotional ties strong, and one way to do that is to give undeserving fighters from other promotional companies’ world title shots.

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