Report/Photos: Tony Mayger/Ringtone Boxing
WBC/WBO #1 super middleweight Callum Smith (24-0, 17 KOs) edged his way into the final of the first series of the World Boxing Super Series with a close fought points win over highly durable late replacement for Juergen Braehmer, Nicky Holzken, on Saturday night at the Arena Nürnberger Versicherung in Nuremberg, Germany.
Before the fight few gave Holzken much of a chance. The former kickboxer, despite being 13-0 as a boxer, was an unknown quantity and fought with grit and durability to make Smith work hard in Nuernberg, Germany.
Smith took the early rounds, threading his jab through the high guard of Holzken and landing the odd uppercut to rock the Dutchman’s head back numerous times throughout the contest.
But the Englishman didn’t have it all his own way. On the back foot for the entire fight, Smith clearly felt his boxing skills were superior and saw no reason to go to war with Holzken. Keeping him on the end of his jab throughout and moving around the ring like a world class pro.
Holzken started to have a little more success after the halfway stage and had some Smith fans worried during moments of pressure. A massive shot on Smith in round 8 had him dazed and sensing an opportunity, Holzken followed up with a flurry in the closing seconds. One cheeky punch after the bell had brother Paul, at ringside, up and gesturing furiously to the referee.
The last two rounds were frantic. Plenty of pressure was applied by Holzken and one huge uppercut in the 11th almost had Smith stunned. The underdog finished strongly but hadn’t worked hard enough for the judges. Scores of 118-110, 117-111, 117-111 could be considered unjustly wide although no-one but the staunchest of Holzken fans could argue with the result.
Smith now faces George Groves in the final of the super middleweight contest in the UK later this year. Both have injuries to overcome, Groves a dislocated shoulder and Smith with a hand injury.