It is unfair to compare siblings, defying as it does, the uniqueness of all of us. However much we may share of the nature and nurture from which we spring and emerge, there is only one of each of us. This solitude of spirit and story is a reality we often deny to ourselves and submerge in the families and communities we cling and migrate to. But as the old idiom reminds us, in life, rather like the boxing ring in to which our heroes step, you come in alone and you leave alone.
At the end of last month, when Callum Smith dropped to the canvas, overwhelmed by the magnitude of his achievement in stopping George Groves, it was an essentially individual accomplishment. Aided by his trainer Joe Gallagher, who won a battle of his own too, and reward for every punishing pad session, every punch absorbed and delivered and every icy dawn run Callum Smith had completed in twenty years of absolute dedication.
As observers and bystanders to his special moment, as his brothers wrapped themselves around him, his huge frame disappearing into a blur or red and black Smith Bros garb, the sense he’d fulfilled more than just his own destiny and potential was palpable.
Oldest brother Paul had led the way, challenging twice for world titles, Stephen won a Silver version of the WBC title and Liam held a WBO Light Middleweight belt but was never considered the champion of the world. In reaching the summit, Callum stepped over the base camps laid down by his brothers and, as the youngest of the four, built on every ounce of experience and knowledge their preceding expeditions could provide.
His win, against an experienced and dangerous champion, was built on managing distance and remaining patient in the face of the adrenaline and nerves which must have been coursing through his veins. The bout lurched from tactical to tedious at times but there were no moments when the viewer felt Smith was ever troubled by what Groves, who sat in to his stance, and in doing so exaggerated Smith’s advantages, was offering.
The first breakthrough in the contest saw Smith stagger the 30-year-old Groves and if the fight had been in a more conventional location, we may have heard the crowd draw breath. Happily, the conclusion was decisive and left no room for doubt. Groves was clipped heavily again, his eyes stared off in to the middle distance and Smith pounced as the champion retreated. Smith was patient, choosing carefully the spots to close the show.
As Groves clasped his gloves to his temples, trying to ride the storm as twenty years of coaching insisted he did, Smith broke his will with a sweeping right to the body. The hands fell first, then the will, then the knees.
In that moment of solitude in triumph, and as the assault on his sensory system began, when he was immersed by emotions he couldn’t contain nor necessarily understand, Smith too fell to his knees.
It is unlikely winning the MyFightTickets.com Boxer of the Month for September will have a similar effect, but the panel were unanimous in his selection and we congratulate him, and the family that stood behind him from the beginning, on his triumph.
2018 July – Oleksandr Usyk
2018 June – Lewis Ritson
2018 May – Josh Warrington
2018 April – Tommy Coyle
2018 March – Lewis Ritson