Braehmer ill, replaced by Nieky Holzken for Callum Smith in WBSS match
By Scott Gilfoid: The World Boxing Super Series just suffered a crushing blow on Tuesday with former 2-time light heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer (49-3, 35 KOs) pulling out of his semifinals fight against Callum Smith (23-0, 17 KOs) and being replaced by little known 34-year-old alternate Nieky Holzken (13-0, 10 KOs).
(Photo credit: World Boxing Super Series)
It’s too bad Braehmer had to pull out of the WBSS tournament. Of all the guys in the tournament, Braehmer had the talent to beat Smith. There were a lot of boxing fans that felt the clever German southpaw was going to school Smith on Saturday and give him a lesson he wouldn’t soon forget. Oh well, that’s how it goes. Smith now gets an easy mark in Holzken to pad his record with on Saturday. This fight could be over with in a round or 2. Smith is going to slaughter Holzken in my view.
Braehmer, 39, would have had a chance to beat Smith, who is a one-dimensional slugger at best. Holzken, who comes from Netherlands, has virtually no chance at all of defeating Smith. Holzken is a 2nd tier fighter. In other words, he’s not ranked in the top 15 by any of the 4 sanctioning bodies. It’s a mismatch.
Given of a lack of time to find a quality replacement, the World Boxing Super Series organizers would have been better off giving the 27-year-old Smith a forfeit win over Braehmer and moved him to the finals of the tournament against WBA Super World super middleweight champion George Groves, who may end up having to pull out of the tournament if his injured left shoulder requires an extended period of time for it to heal.
Holzken was training to fight on this Saturday’s Smith-Braehmer undercard against Dmitry Chudinov when he got the news that he would be the replacement.
“I gave an interview last week and said it’s great there have been no dropouts,” Callum Smith said to ESPN.com. “Looks like I spoke too soon. We got the call as we were boarding the plane. I am committed to fighting on Saturday and will fight whoever.”
Having Smith face an over-matched Holzken on Saturday instead of Braehmer takes a lot of the air out of the World Boxing Super Series tournament. Instead of being a tournament, it’s more of a straight match-up between Callum Smith and either Groves or another alternate. There’s a chance that Groves will be replaced by the opponent he beat last Saturday night in Chris Eubank Jr. He’s being mentioned as an option to replace Groves if his left shoulder isn’t healed enough for him to fight on June 2 in the finals of the WBSS against the winner of the Smith-Holzken fight. The tournament will obviously go ahead without Groves if he can’t fight, but it’s going to be forlorn by that point. You’ll have Smith fighting either the recently beaten Eubank Jr. or whoever the WBSS organizers can pull in to take the fight. Ideally, the tournament organizers should get another super middleweight champion to step in to compete in the finals on June 2nd, but that’s not likely to happen. The promoters for the 168 lb. champions are not going to want to have their fighters acting as an alternate in the WBSS tournament. As such, we’re probably talking about fringe contender level opponent for the winner of the Smith vs. Holzken fight to fight on June 2 in the finals. They might as well crown Callum Smith the winner right now if Groves drops out of the tournament.