A last-minute change in opponents did not stop Callum Smith from executing a well-thought out gameplan to advance to the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight semifinals.
Smith defeated Nieky Holzken by unanimous decision (118-110, 117-111, 117-111) on the last World Boxing Super Series semifinal bout and will face George Groves in the finals at the O2 Arena in London in early June. Smith also successfully retained the WBC Diamond belt he won in the quarterfinal bout of the tournament against Erik Skoglund.
Smith started the fight by landing numerous consecutive jabs as he moved around the ring, defending against the strong hooks from Holzken. Smith spent the entire fight throwing jabs and using his height advantage. Smith broke the super middleweight record for jabs thrown (852) in a fight previously held by Glen Johnson. Smith’s 202 jabs landed is also No. 2 all time among super middleweights. Holzken was able to land several power punches to Smith's body at times, but Smith has been to defend well against many of Holzken's punches and walked away from the fight relatively unscathed.
Holzken was inserted into the tournament after former light heavyweight world champion Juergen Braehmer, Smith's original opponent in the semifinal bout, suffered from influenza earlier this week and would not recover in time to fight. The other finalist also is facing questions about his status after suffering a dislocated left shoulder towards the end of his semifinal bout against Chris Eubank Jr.
After the fight, Groves was interviewed and said he feels confident about his chances to recover in time to fight Smith in the finals.