Callum Smith is determined to do his sister proud when he begins his quest to become the winner of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) on Saturday.
The unbeaten English boxer faces Sweden’s Erik Skoglund at the Echo Arena in his home city of Liverpool in the first quarterfinal of the eight-man tournament, after the WBSS cruiserweight competition started last weekend.
The $50 million World Boxing Super Series will utilize a fourth judge in the event that a fight in the single-elimination tournament ends in a no contest or no decision and the three official scorecards do not determine a winner.
Former junior welterweight world titleholder Amir Khan is looking forward to seeing Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin battle for the unified middleweight world championship on Saturday night.
And while he has his eyes on a potential meeting with rival and tournament favourite George Groves in the final of the WBSS in May, Smith will be doing his best to raise awareness for autism along with his three elder brothers — Paul, Stephen and Liam — who are also elite professional boxers.
“My younger sister Hollie, who’s 16, has autism which is why we have autism on our shorts,” Smith told ESPN.
“She was diagnosed with autism aged two. All our reactions at the time were what was that? More people have become aware of it in recent years but back then they weren’t and we do it to raise awareness about the condition.
“We wear ‘Autism’ on our shorts to raise awareness and show support for other families dealing with autism.
“We’re helping to do our part, we raise money for autistic schools. It’s a full-time job for my mum and dad. She’s unbelievable but there are good days and bad days. Some days she laughs and is smiling, but others she’s hard work and doesn’t sleep through the night. It’s tough for my mum and dad then and a lot of other families go through something similar.”
Smith comes from a boxing mad family and Callum’s elder brothers have all boxed for world titles, with Liam reigning as WBO super welterweight champion until losing a third defence to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez year ago.
But mum Margaret is not a fan and just like she does with her other boys, will go to the bingo instead of watching the fight at the venue or on television.
“She still goes to the bingo and turns the phone off when I fight or one of the others,” Callum told ESPN.
“She just asks how is he, how’s his face when she’s contacted after the fight.
“When we all retire it will be the happiest day of her life. She’s proud of what we’ve all done but she doesn’t enjoy it. Most mums of boxers only have one to worry about — but she’s got four.”
The rest of the family will be there when Smith takes on Skoglund after a training regime that involves regular swimming sessions.
“I studied all the other fighters in the competition and there was no easy option,” Smith told ESPN.
“But I saw that Skoglund likes to use his height but he won’t be able to do that with me and when I land I will be too strong and powerful for him.
“Joe Gallagher [Smith’s trainer] started do swimming with us a few years ago and we’ve seen the benefit from it. We do it twice a week and it’s different from the old school ways. It’s less impact on your knees. We also do track work as well and it breaks up the routine of running every day.
“I’ve been doing the best times in this camp in the pool than ever before.”