A pair of talented prospects facing stern tests ahead of a potential showdown with each other, highlight a big card of boxing action in Liverpool this weekend.
Super middleweight Callum Smith and fellow Liverpudlian Rocky Fielding line up against tough veteran’s on Saturday night, and as long as they both emerge unscathed, a major local derby looks likely for later in the year.
Elsewhere on the card, Tony Bellew hopes to continue his winning run at cruiserweight and Martin Murray hopes to rebound from defeat in his first foray to super middleweight.
Callum Smith vs Christopher Rebrasse
Callum Smith, at 25, is the youngest of the four boxing Smith brothers, but he is the one with the most talent. At 6’3 he is tall and rangy with a frame that looks likely to fill out in the coming years, taking him up to light heavyweight or even further. For now though, Smith is happy to campaign in the stacked super middleweight division where there is the potential for big money domestic showdowns.
So far in his 16 fight career, Smith has looked mostly spectacular against a mix of veteran’s and fellow young guns. His performances have been good enough that he is widely considered the hottest prospect in British boxing. He has stopped 12 of his opponents inside the distance, and all signs indicate he carries the power to continue putting backs on canvas as he moves forward. Although, he will have his work cut out for him in that regard this Saturday.
Christopher Rebrasse is a former EBU European champion. He lost the title in September of last year when George Groves outpointed him over 12 rounds at the Wembley Arena. The 29 year old gave a good account of himself against Carl Froch’s tormentor, however. Groves struggled to land clean thanks to the French fighter’s stern defense and Rebrasse remained ambitious throughout.
Smith is a heavy favourite going in to this one and deservedly so. The bookies even fancy him to stop the game Rebrasse. Given the fact that the man known as “L’Iceberg” has never been stopped and his display of durability against a gung-ho Groves, this is perhaps a little surprising. Groves’ desperation to look good, coming off his knockout loss to Froch, may have played a role in that result. Smith can get the job done inside the distance if he shows patience, picks his shots and wears Rebrasse down. Still, 6/4 for Smith on points seems a more sensible bet.
Rocky Fielding vs Brian Vera
At times during his 20 fight career, Fielding has looked just as spectacular as his counterpart Smith. He won the Prizefighter tournament in impressive fashion early on in his career and has scored some tremendous knockouts, such as this one against fellow prospect Luke Blackledge.
Fielding however, has been inconsistent. In his last outing he laboured to an 8 round decision against Oleg Fedotovs, a man that Smith had disposed of in less than a round only a couple of months previous. As long as he comes through his fight on Saturday though, such comparisons could become unnecessary – as the better man will be decided head to head.
Brian Vera is the sort of guy who loves to spoil a party.
The Texan has caused some stunning upsets in a career that has seen him fight a catalogue of quality fighters. His biggest win came in 2008 when he stopped the then undefeated Andy Lee in 7 rounds. Vera is as rugged and as tough as they come. He is not a fighter travelling to take a beating from an up and comer for a pay check. You can be guaranteed that Brian Vera will put everything he has into earning the win this Saturday.
Though Vera is the kind of character who regularly looks tempting as a bet against prospects and unproven contender types, a surprise here seems unlikely. Vera has improved significantly as a boxer in recent years, but he still primarily relies upon roughhouse tactics to get the job done. Fighting natural light middleweights and middleweights he has had success with this approach, but against a very big super middleweight he wont win a physical fight. Fielding will have his hand raised after 12 rounds, but he will be made to work for the win.
The two big names on the card will also have one eye on bigger fights.
Tony Bellew takes on journeyman Ivica Bacurin in a cruiserweight matchup. “The Bomber” was originally scheduled to face Lubos Suda, but the Czech fighter was forced to withdraw yesterday. Bellew has looked good since stepping up from light heavyweight scoring big wins against Valery Brudov and old nemesis Nathan Cleverly. He is hoping that a win here will put him a step closer to a shot against IBF Cruiserweight king Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
Martin Murray will also be in action. Murray, who was bludgeoned to an 11th round TKO last time out against Gennady Golovkin, begins his campaign at super middleweight against George Beroshvili. The St. Helen’s fighter could move himself into the mix quite quickly with a couple of wins, as the 12 stone division is teeming with talent. Fights with new champ James Degale or the winner of the eventual Fielding vs Smith showdown would be interesting all English clashes and should be easy to make, with each athlete being under the Matchroom promotional umbrella.