|Liverpool’s Stephen “Swifty” Smith|
In only his 11th professional fight, Stephen “Swifty Smith, younger brother of the current British Super-Middleweight Champion: Paul “Smigga” Smith has the chance to become the Featherweight Commonwealth champion when he takes on Scotland’s John Simpson on July 3rd in (no venue yet).
Simpson hails from Greenock and has already defended the title against Paul Truscott, the man he beat to claim the belt, but with six losses on his record (Including one against fellow scouse boxer Derry Matthews), Smith will be supremely confident of claiming his first title as a professional.
Stephen 24, like his older brother (and now two younger brothers: Liam and Callum) fights out of the Famous Rotunda Amateur Boxing Club in Kirkdale, close to where he grew up as a boy in Liverpool, where his father Paul, a keen boxing fan used to watch up and coming boxers like Tony Willis train.
As a young boy, Stephen was a natural, and under the guidance of the late great Jimmy Albertina, whose name still blazons the Smith brothers trunks to this day, he was renowned for his stylish boxing skills and has evolved into to be an accomplished boxer.
|Stephen had over 140 amateur fights|
As an amateur Stephen fought over 140 times (120 wins), winning nine national titles and a bronze medal at the 2006 European Amateur Championships in Bulgaria where he lost to the Russian amateur star Albert Selimov, who eventually won the Tournament Gold and the World Championship a year later.
Stephen took that experience into the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and boxed brilliantly eventually bringing home the Featherweight gold medal bettering the Light-Middleweight silver his elder sibling Paul won just four years earlier in Manchester.
“Swifty” went the 2007 world championships with heavy expectations on his young shoulders, but admits he was guilty of looking past his first round opponent to a revenge rematch with Semilov. But was beaten on points by an excellent Marcel Herfeuth, which Stephen now acknowledges was a good learning experience and would make sure he never overlooked an opponent in the future.
Stephen immediately signed with Frank Warren, and turned professional in June 2008 with a 3rd round KO against Shaun Walton and has since gone on to dispatch nine more opponents (four more by knockout), two of which were on the under card of older brother Paul’s winning and defending the British Super-Middleweight title at the newly built 11,000 capacity Echo arena at Liverpool’s Docklands. (video below)
Stephen Smith vs Jason Thomas
Although in the early stages of his career, many people think this is the perfect opportunity at the precisely the right time for Smith, Older brother Paul stated “Stephen is ready for this fight and has been for about six months now, It’s the same problem with every boxer in that the fights are just difficult to make.”
“Simpson is a tough kid and we know what he is capable of doing, but even Simpson at his very best, Stephen will have too much for him, I’ve said to anyone that will listen, that Stephen is a real talent and I feel this will be the first of many titles to come.”
|Smith fights John Simpson in July (pictured)|
“I know enough about John Simpson, Seen plenty of his fights, I know his strengths and his weaknesses and have plenty of respect for him, he ducks no one, neither will I when I am Champion.”
“I’m training for 12 rounds and expecting to do 12 rounds. If it goes that far then so be it, either way I’m looking forward to it.”
There is often a reference to a younger sibling “stepping out of his brothers shadow” when a title chance like this comes along but Stephen is a top class boxer in his own right, a young warrior learning the fight game all the time and is making all the right noises as all the Smith brothers do.
|Smith in training|
Stephen’s fight with John Simpson will be shown live on Sky Sports “Friday Fight Night” and July 3rd and has all the ingredients to be a British Classic.
Stephen also took time out to speak to British Boxers in our “In the Ring with” feature.
Boxing questions and answers round!
When and how did you get into boxing?
I got into boxing when I was 8 or 9 years old, We used to live close to the Rotunda ABC in Kirkdale and my elder brother Paul went there with his mates. I used to follow him around everywhere, so I was in there right behind him. The rest is history as they say!
Who was your first trainer?
My first ever trainer was the late great Jimmy Albertina, or Jimmy Albo as he was known. There was nothing he didn’t know about the game he loved, He had his own way of getting it across to his pupils too, He was a special man and a special person in my life. I miss him so much still now x (Jimmy passed away on May 6 2003 aged just 53, after suffering an heart attack, In 1976 Jimmy became a founder member of Liverpool’s famous Rotunda Club along with Micky Keating and Georgie Vaughan and at the time of his death was Senior Advance Coach at the Kirkdale club) see more on Jimmy ‘Albo’ Albertina.
How would you describe your fight style?
Depends on the day, the opponent and the way I feel best to beat him. I can box, I can fight, I can adapt technically and tactically. I believe my versatility is what makes me the fighter I am.
As a young boxer I was influenced by a few different fighters, Naz used to have me in awe of the sport, I would run home to make sure I didn’t miss his entrances, I loved him. The young Mike Tyson emphasized the ruthlessness needed to succeed for me, He tore holes in the heavyweight division. But my favourite fighter of all time was and is Sugar Ray Leonard, I watched him as often as I could growing up, He had it all.
Toughest opponent you faced?
If toughest opponent means best, Then the best fighters I have faced were Albert Selimov (European and World Amateur Champion), Alexei Tschenko(European, World Amateur and 2 Time Olympic Champion), but the best of all was Frankie Gavin (Britain’s first ever World Amateur Champion). He was so elusive and technically good, We sparred so much over the years and I feel he helped me improve more than anyone else.
Toughest Part of being a boxer?
Making weight, The dedication required in this sport is unbelievable. The dieting definitely is the toughest part, I would do all the training, fighting, sparring twice over if it meant me not having to diet (ha ha).
Who do you wish you had fought or want to fight?
I wish I fought Guillermo Rigendeaux, (The Cuban Double Olympic Champion), He is the greatest amateur I have ever seen and it would have been an honour to have shared a ring with him, Special talents like that don’t come about too often.
Best fight you have seen?
Probably the toughest question yet, Barrera vs Morales 1 was great, Castillo vs Corrales first fight was special as was the Ward vs Gatti trilogy
Wouldn’t like to have to split these but if I was put on the spot then Barrera v Morales 1 would probably edge it.
Marco Antonio Barrera VS. Erik Morales
Dream Fight? Who v Who?
Mayweather Vs Pacquiao in this day and age, That’s a no brainer.
If it is in any generation then it would be Sugar Ray Leonard vs Floyd Mayweather, closely followed by a prime Iron Mike Tyson vs a prime Muhammed Ali.
My parents, My Mum and Dad have always been my heroes.
Favorite all time boxer, World and British?
Sugar Ray Leonard, Favourite all time British fighter has to be “Prince” Naseem Hamed.
Favourite British fighter at the moment?
Favourite British Fighter of today has to be a toss up between my two brothers Paul and Liam (ha ha). Best British Fighter today is close, Haye and Khan are the form fighters, There’s a lot of talent coming through though, the future is definitely bright!!!
Favorite current fighter?
Floyd “Money” Mayweather, He is unbelievable, There cant possibly have been many fighters ever lived better than he is, He really is that good.
What do you do when you are not Boxing?
Spend time with family, friends and with my girlfriend. Relax and enjoy life really, Play about at other sports too, Pool and Darts against my brothers gets a bit competitive like (ha ha).
There is a hotbed of British talent coming through right now. I honestly believe the British public will be spoilt in the next few years. There hasn’t been so much talent coming through in a long time. The Olympians are obviously good lads and will do well, I like the look of Kell Brook too. (pictured right) The name I’m hoping will also be on the public’s lip’s will be the Smith brothers 😉 Watch this space.
Winning! Providing my family with a great future and becoming the best I can possibly be.
What would you change in Boxing?
Not too sure really, people all have differing opinions. I would maybe make only one world champion at each weight, That way we would know who really was the best. Who really is the champ!!!
What music do you listen too?
Love most music to be honest.
Last book you read?
Not a big reader really. My girlfriend reads a lot of books and currently is raving about “The Secret.”
Love all Adam Sandler films, he is brilliant. Also love The Green Mile, Shawshank. I’m a Twilight fan too 😉
Who would play you in a movie of your life?
Don’t know really, Any young cheeky scouser would do.
Love most food if I’m honest. Roast Dinners, Steaks…If I had to pick one then it would probably be Pasta.
Best Holiday destination?
America or Australia. Florida has been one of my favourites, been there Four times, love it.
What other sports do you watch?
Football (big Liverpool fan). Darts, Snooker. My family watch a lot of sport to be honest so I’ve been brought up around it.
Best friend in Boxing?
Boxing has been good to me, I have met a lot of amazing people there who I’m lucky enough to call really close friends. Wouldn’t like to pick one out. Always stayed close to my mates from my days on the GB squads – Frankie Gavin, James Degale, Danny Price, David Price, Tony Jeffries, Tony Bellew and have a lot of friends in Liverpool who I train with every day, like Joe Selkirk, Paul Edwards, Joe McNally. Hate listing names as I will have definitely have missed people out but my close friends know who they are.
Jessica Alba, Cheryl Cole and Peter Kay to make me laugh (ha ha!)
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
That I was a trainee Accountant before I turned professional.
Who is the greatest British Boxer of all time?
Not sure, Lennox Lewis had a great record. What Calzaghe done was unbelievable. Both inspiring. – Who is the Best British boxer of all time?
Quick Fire Questions:
Red or Blue? RED
Lindsay or Simpson? SIMPSON FIRST, LINDSAY NEXT!
Featherweight or Super Featherweight? FEATHERWEIGHT
Barrera or Morales? MORALES
Naz or Khan? NAZ
Paquiao or Mayweather? MAYWEATHER
Jab or Hook? JABS THE MAIN PUNCH. LOVE A LEFT HOOK THOUGH (HA HA)
Head or Body? BOTH
WBC or WBA? WBC
European or British Title? BRITISH
Drink? DIET COKE!!!
One thing you cant live without? MY LOVED ONES
Favourite Quote? “YOU ONLY GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN”
What does the future hold for Stephen Smith? BIG THINGS! TITLES TO COME VERY SOON 😉
Thank-you Stephen for your time and we wish you every success in your career.
Thank-you Stephen for your time and we wish you every success in your career.
Interview by Phil D. Jay for British Boxers website www.britishboxers.co.uk