Clitheroe’s Luke Blackledge isn’t buying into the hype surrounding the newly crowned WBC Silver super middleweight champion Callum Smith just yet.
The 25-year-old landed the strap with a wide points win over Frenchman Christopher Rebrasse at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, taking his professional record to 17(12)-0-0.
But despite downing his opponent in the eighth with a lethal left to the solar plexus, as well as taking two cards of 118-110 and one of 120-107, Elite Boxing’s Commonwealth supremo was less enthused.
“There’s talk of world title fights for him,” said Blackledge. “But I thought he looked European level at best. Callum has won a lot of fights but that was his first real test. I thought he looked quite ordinary - not like he was world class. I think he needs a good few fights before he’s put in at the top.”
The previous owner of the belt, George Groves, who beat American southpaw Denis Douglin at the same venue in November, also landed a unanimous verdict over Rebrasse at Wembley Arena last year.
Groves will now face Badou Jack for the WBC World super middleweight title in Las Vegas next month. However, Blackledge believes the two contests are incomparable. “It was a comeback fight for Groves after getting knocked out by Carl Froch. We didn’t see him at his best but I still think he handled it better than Smith. Smith stuck to his game-plan well and won the fight comfortably. He just didn’t look to be at the same level that some people are making out. For me there’s still many questions that need answering about Smith.”
Fielding looks ready for a world title shot
Blackledge’s conqueror Rocky Fielding, live on Sky Sports, stopped Brian Vera in two rounds in his home city on Friday night.
The Liverpudlian, who floored his American foe in the first and second round, before forcing referee Ian John Lewis to halt the contest, is now ranked in the top 15 in all four governing bodies after landing the vacant WBC International title.
Blackledge, who lost to the 27-year-old Matchroom fighter 19 months ago, believes the British number four will be the one to impact on the world stage.
Promoter Eddie Hearn hinted at a final eliminator between Smith and Fielding in the not-so-distant future, but Blackledge believes the pair will be kept apart for now: “Fielding looked world class. He demolished an experienced fighter. He was class.
“I think Rocky is ready for a world title shot. It looks like Callum Smith will get pushed in that direction too. But I think Eddie Hearn will keep them away from each other for now.
“I can’t see it happening for a while because they’re both undefeated fighters signed with Eddie Hearn at Matchroom.”
Meanwhile Blackledge, trained by Alex Matvienko at the former pro’s hub in Bolton, is clinging on to the coat-tails of the aforementioned pair.
Blackledge is ranked fifth in the British rankings and is craving a shot at the prestigious Lonsdale belt.
“I would say I’m at a similar level to Smith,” said Blackledge. “I think I’ve had tougher fights than him so far. I’d be confident of beating Rebrasse. I’ll definitely get a shot at the British title but I wouldn’t expect it to be against either of those two.”