The last obstacle on Callum Smith’s road to the super-middleweight final of the World Boxing Super Series(WBSS) will now be Dutchman Nieky Holzken and not German veteran Juergen Braehmer.
Former WBO and WBA light-heavyweight champion Braehmer, who outpointed American Rob Brant in his quarter-final last October, has pulled out of his scheduled semi-final clash with Smith due to a bout with influenza. In an effort to ensure that such withdrawals would have a minimal impact on the tournament schedule, WBSS organizers have employed standbys for semi-final bouts. On this occasion, the standby was Holzken, who will now face Smith this Saturday in Nuremberg for a place in the final.
Holzken is better known as a kickboxer. The 34-year-old has won a host of European and world titles during his kickboxing career, including, most notably, the Glory welterweight title. Though it’s often hard to find reliable sources for kickboxing records and Holzken’s ledger varies from source to source, most agree that he has had over 100 pro bouts and scored more than 90 wins.
Holzken had his first professional boxing bout back in 2013 and he has since compiled a 13-0 record with 10 KOs. He has, however, never faced anyone even approaching Smith’s level in the boxing ring.
“I’ve been waiting for this chance to come. I signed up as a substitute fighter so I’m in great shape and prepared for Saturday,” said Holzken, who would have fought tough Russian Dmitrii Chudinov on the undercard if it wasn’t for Braehmer’s withdrawal. “I’ve watched Callum Smith fight many times. I study everyone in my weight division. He’s a good, solid fighter. We’re both big body punchers. It will make for an excellent fight.”
“Callum, you better be ready, because I am, and I’m coming to beat you!”
Liverpool’s Smith, who is 23-0 with 17 stoppages, booked his place in the semi-final with a unanimous decision victory over the previously undefeated Erik Skoglund last September.
The winner of Smith vs. Holzken will go on to face George Groves, who defeated Chris Eubank Jr. in a wild semi-final bout last weekend in Manchester, in the tournament final.