The battle for the inaugural 168lbs Muhammad Ali Trophy begins on Saturday 16 September with the first of the World Boxing Super Series’ hugely anticipated super middleweight match ups. British betting favourite and number two seed Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) will meet undefeated Swedish star Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs) in a quarter-final bout at Echo Arena Liverpool.
David Price will make his return to the ring, with Adam Little taking on Darren Surtees over eight rounds on the undercard. There will be action for the duo of Lloyd Campbell and Luke Willis, and Luke Blackledge meets the undefeated Zach Parker in a British super-middleweight title eliminator.
Smith, who is undefeated in his twenty-two professional contests, selected Skoglund as his quarter-final opponent during the live Draft Gala on July 8th at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, and as one of the four seeded super middleweights he will enjoy home advantage for his first tournament test.
A ring is a ring no matter where it is, but of course, I’m happy to be fighting in Liverpool. This is my home and this is where all my best performances as a professional have been. I like fighting in Liverpool, and with the crowd behind me, I will have an added advantage on September 16th.
There are no easy fights in this tournament. It’s the best fighting the best, but I believe I made the right decision in Monte Carlo. That’s not to say Skoglund is not a good fighter. I think he is a very good fighter. His record speaks for itself, but I think stylistically, he was the right choice for me.
It will be a tough test. On paper, Skoglund is probably the best fighter I’ve ever faced, and I will need to be at my best to beat him. But every time I’ve been up against it in my career and every time there’s been that fear factor, it’s brought out the best in me and I’m hoping for the same on September 16th.
Skoglund, who is unbeaten in his twenty-four paid fights and was ranked with all major governing bodies at 175lbs before moving down in weight, is relishing the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with one of the division’s top talents, and believes the winner of this fight can go on to lift the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy.
This is a huge opportunity for me to prove myself at the highest level. Callum Smith is a top-level fighter and one of the tournament favourites. This is what the World Boxing Super Series is all about - the best fighting the best! That’s why I entered and that’s why I’m really looking forward to this fight.
For me, it’s no problem fighting in Liverpool. Of course, I am always thankful for the opportunity to fight in front of my fans in Sweden, but I’m happy not having that pressure on my shoulders for this fight and I will enjoy being the underdog for once.
The WBC Diamond Championship will also be on the line for the winner of this quarter-final clash giving both men an added incentive. ‘’I’m in this sport to win as many titles as possible, and it will be great to add the WBC Diamond belt to my collection,’’ said Smith. ‘’It’s going to be an honour to fight for the WBC Diamond title,’’ said Skoglund. ''It gives me even more motivation to beat Smith!’’