SMITH: THE AMATEURS ARE IN THE PAST, I’VE GOT NEW GOALS TO ACHIEVE

Gifted Sheffield standout ready for Bennett test
Dalton Smith, Sheffield’s most successful amateur boxer of all time,only has eyes for the future as he prepares to take the biggest step up in his pro career to date when he fights Liverpool’s Nathan Bennett over eight rounds in Brentwood, Essex on Saturday August 1, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US. 

In a glittering amateur career, Smith established himself as one of the very best fighters in the country, winning medals at the Junior European Championships and youth Commonwealth Games, as well as representing Team GB around the World and taking on the very best amateurs on the planet in the World Series of Boxing.

Since swapping his Team GB vest for the paid ranks with Eddie’s Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing in March 2019, Smith has emerged as one of the most exciting prospects in the UK, winning all five of his bouts in impressive fashion and stopping all but one opponent inside the distance.

‘Thunder’s’ successful switch from the amateurs is all the more compelling given he had four operations on his hands before even starting his professional adventure, and the gifted 23-year-old says his hands are feeling stronger than ever as he looks to move 6-0 this weekend. 

“In the amateurs I had a lot of hand injuries towards the back of my career and I’ve got the scars to show for it.” said Smith. “I’ve had two operations on my right hand and I had to have a tendon repaired on my left hand. You can see why I say the gloves and the hand wraps have a big impact in the amateurs on fighter’s hands. I’d be going to tournaments, throwing punches but holding back. 

“It was like a mental thing where I’d had all of that time off with injuries and operations, I just didn’t want to go through all of that again. You just have to overcome that and have trust in yourself. They’ve been fine ever since. Now I’ve turned professional I get the pro wrap, the gloves are shaped better and I’ve not had not any hand trouble whatsoever.”

Trained by his father Grant at the Steel City Gym in Sheffield alongside former WBC Flyweight World Champion Charlie Edwards and his brother Sunny, Smith has settled well into life as a professional fighter and hopes to replicate his outstanding amateur achievements in the pro game. 

“My dad got a trophy cabinet for me to keep all of my medals and trophies together. I used to come back from a tournament and my dad would stack my medals in there. The trophies go back to when I was eleven when I first started competing. It’s nice to look back on my past achievements. It’s something to show your kids when you get older.

“I won National Titles all the way up to the Seniors. Just before I turned professional, I won the Senior ABA’s. I had a good amateur career so it’s nice to see all of my medals and look back on them but I’m in the professional game now and I’ve got new goals to achieve. I’ll have to get a new trophy cabinet now to stick the belts in. The amateurs are passed me now and success in professional game is my new goal.”

Smith vs. Bennett lands on Week 1 of Matchroom Fight Camp, top of the bill sees Sam Eggington (28-6, 17 KOs) put his IBF International Super-Welterweight Title on the line against Ted Cheeseman (15-2-1, 9 KOs), Belfast’s big-hitting James Tennyson (26-3, 22 KOs) takes on Cardiff’s Gavin Gwynne (12-1, 2 KOs) for the vacant British Lightweight Title, fast-rising Ipswich Heavyweight Fabio Wardley (8-0, 7 KOs) steps up to take on Middlesbrough’s Simon Vallily (17-2-1, 7 KOs) for the vacant English belt and Chatteris talent Jordan Gill (24-1, 7 KOs) meets Watford’s Reece Bellotti (14-3, 12 KOs) in an electric Featherweight battle.
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AGYARKO TAKES ON SMITH IN MIDDLEWEIGHT MAYHEM

UNBEATEN MIDDLEWEIGHT CONTENDER Caoimhin Agyarko will take on Jez Smith live from the BT Studio on Friday night in the third of Frank Warren’s post-lockdown summer series.Heading up the show is the tasty looking light heavyweight collision between Lyndon Arthur and Dec Spelman with the Commonwealth title at stake in a fight where sparks are certain to fly.

Agyarko and Smith coming together is also a combustible cocktail containing mostly pure aggression and come forward intent from both fighters.

Agyarko (6-0), known as Black Thunder, recognises this domestic dust-up as his first big test, while Smith (11-1-1) acknowledges this is his time to shine in stepping up to middleweight for a golden opportunity to kickstart his career.

“Jez Smith is a decent opponent so I am looking forward to it,” said the 23-year-old from Belfast. “I have been wanting someone who will come and fight, someone who will throw back and leave openings. Someone who will test me as well, so this could be it.

“He has never fought at middleweight before, but he carries a bit of power for a welterweight and has five stoppages from his 11 wins. I’ll not be taking anything for granted. Regardless of whether he is a welterweight or not, I am taking it as my toughest fight to date and I am going to put on a good performance.

“Obviously I would have preferred a middleweight with a good record but nobody wanted to step up to the plate at this moment in time. Fair play to Jez for taking this fight and I am sure he will be out to prove everybody wrong and cause an upset.

“This is a stepping stone for me, a domestic dust-up and what I’ve been calling for. I am looking forward to getting the job done and moving on to bigger and better things.”

Smith, from Harrow, is undaunted by the mission of stepping up in weight and views the fight as his potential passport back to the big stage he operated on during his prospect phase.

“I’d been preparing for a fight in Belarus and working hard, but I didn’t know what was going on with travel quarantine,” said Smith, the younger brother of former WBO European champion Mitchell.

“So I put my name out there in case anything came up and then I got a message from my trainer saying we’ve been offered a fight at middleweight.

“I was going to fight between light middle and middle in Belarus so I said to myself it is just an extra few pounds and I believe I am big enough. To be honest with you, I look at Agyarko and I don’t think he is a middleweight.

“I believe he is not massive at the weight and, if he wanted to, he could do a lower weight. He is quite chunky but it doesn’t faze me and I believe I am strong enough and I spar bigger lads all the time.

“I can fight, I can box and, I’ll tell you one thing for sure, I am not coming in as a body. I am coming to win and he is going to get a tough night’s work.

“It is a massive opportunity for me. It is on BT Sport and if I put on a massive performance and turn him over it opens up a huge door for me.

“I am not saying I am going to fight at middleweight from now on, it is just a fight I believe I hold my own in. I believe I can win. I am not being unrealistic because I don’t think he is a world-beater. I’ve watched him and he is a good fighter, but I am believe I am too and I can’t wait to get in there.

“If people go off my last performance then more fool them.”

Also featuring on the card is the exciting Liverpool trio of Nick Ball, Andrew Cain and Brad Strand from the Everton Red Triangle gym. 11-0 featherweight Ball takes on the 6-0 Jerome Campbell from Kingsbury.Live coverage on BT Sport 1 begins at 7pm on Friday.
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JOHN HEDGES SIGNS WITH MATCHROOM BOXING

Decorated amateur standout inks deal with Eddie Hearn
Decorated amateur standout John Hedges has signed a multi-fight promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and will campaign at Super-Middleweight after making the decision to turn professional with S-JAM Boxing in April.
 
The elusive 6’5” southpaw won four National and seven International titles during a glittering spell in the unpaid code in which he amassed an extremely impressive record of 44 fights and 40 wins fighting all over Europe. 
 
Known as ‘Gentleman John’, the gifted 18-year-old prospect fights out of the Hoddesdon Boxing Academy and joins a Matchroom stable that boasts two undefeated Super-Middleweight World Champions in Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders. 
 
Based in Takeley, Essex Hedges is confident his flashy style will suit the professional game and believes he is in the perfect place to start making a name for himself in the 168lbs division when boxing resumes later this year. 
 
“I’m delighted to be teaming up with Matchroom Boxing,” said Hedges. “It’s a massive move for me and I can’t wait to get started. I’m a long 6’5” southpaw and I’m everyone’s worst nightmare. With my size and ability, I honestly believe that I’ll go all the way and become a young World Champion, if not the youngest. 
 
“I’ve got the best manager and coach behind me, and now I’ve got the best promoter behind me in Eddie Hearn. The opportunities are going to be endless for me, this is what dreams are made of. I’m only young but I’ve been around the block and I’m ready to take over. 
 
“I’m flashy, entertaining and I always put on a show. Joining Matchroom and looking up to the likes of Callum Smith and Billy Joe is going to take my fighting to another level. As soon as that opportunity comes, we’ll push for any titles there is. We’re not avoiding anyone; we believe that we’re as good as the best right now. It’s about taking my chance.”
 
“I’m excited to add highly-rated prospect John Hedges to our ranks,” said Eddie Hearn. “John has proven his credentials in the amateurs, winning countless titles at both National and International level. His size and ability will make him a problem for anyone at 168lbs and I look forward to guiding his development once he makes his professional debut later this year. 

“If John needs any inspiration he need look no further than his new stablemates Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders who both hold World Titles at his weight. He possesses bags of confidence which is vital in this sport and he now has the perfect platform on Sky Sports and DAZN to showcase his skills.”
 
Sam Jones of S-JAM Boxing said: “I am absolutely delighted to link up with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing. I believe they have the perfect platform for John with Sky Sports and DAZN and I genuinely believe he can become a superstar in boxing.”
 
You can follow Hedges’ journey on Twitter: @johnhedges_ and Instagram: johnhedges1
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COVID-19: MATCHROOM BOXING SCHEDULE UPDATE

Newcastle and Cardiff events rescheduled; Manchester cancelled
In line with the latest BBBofC and Government guidelines relating to COVID-19, Matchroom Boxing have taken the decision to reschedule their events due to take place in Newcastle on Saturday June 27th and Cardiff on Saturday July 11th, while the event taking place at Manchester Arena on Saturday July 4th has been cancelled.
 
Subject to the developing situation, Lee Selby’s IBF Lightweight World Title Final Eliminator against George Kambosos Jr at the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff has been rescheduled to Saturday October 3rd, while Lewis Ritson’s clash with former World Champion Miguel Vazquez at the Utilita Arena Newcastle has been rescheduled to Saturday October 17th.  
 
Tickets will be valid for the rescheduled dates in Cardiff and Newcastle or refunds will be available from your point of purchase. Tickets for the cancelled Manchester event will be available from your point of purchase.
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CHARLIE EDWARDS SIGNS FOR QUEENSBERRY PROMOTIONS

FORMER WBC World Flyweight champion Charlie Edwards has signed a multi-fight deal with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren.

He joins brother Sunny in the Queensberry Promotions camp and believes it’s only a matter of time before ‘The Croydon Klitschkos’ are fighting in world title contests on the same bill.

Edwards, 27, said: “I was with Eddie Hearn for six years and I needed to freshen things up. I feel this is the next chapter of my career.

“I have seen what Frank has done for my brother Sunny. He has done very well for him from the start.

“Frank really looks after his fighters as well. I felt I was taken for granted and I am looking forward to getting started with Frank as my promoter.

“I have chatted to Frank at Sunny’s fights and the timing was right.  My management MTK sorted the deal, my adviser thought it was best for me and the offer is great.”

Edwards (15-1, 6KOs) will be moving up from Flyweight to either Bantamweight or Super-Flyweight where he is ranked number two by the WBC in their world rankings.

Charlie vacated his WBC world crown after being severely weight-drained for his defence against Julio Cesar Martinez last August that ended in a no-contest.

He added: “The next fight is likely to be a gage to see where I’m at regarding my best weight. The main thing is keeping my world ranking at Super-Flyweight for now.

“I look at the Bantamweight champions. I’m not deluded and say,  ‘I’m world level’ at that weight because that would be stupid.

“If I go to Bantamweight I wont be rushing to get in with world level fighters. It will be building up over a few fights.

“I have Frank behind me and he is not going to chuck me in at the deep end. It’s going to be building into the world title picture.”

Edwards insists he is more than happy to box on one of the behind closed doors extravaganzas Warren has planned this summer.

His big hope is to fight on the same bill as his brother Sunny, who also has serious world title aspirations at Super-Flyweight.

Charlie who trains alongside his brother under Grant Smith in Sheffield said: “Just mentioning me and my brother fighting for world titles on the same bill gives a tingle down my spine.

“I did a bucket list some time ago. Sunny and myself fighting on the same show has always been there. That was another thing that made it perfect sense to join Frank because it can happen.

“We still try to outdo each other when we train. That is the beauty of it. We’re brothers, we have ultimate love and want the best for each other.

“We want to beat each other whether we’re sparring or on the track. We have progressed because we always push each other.”

Warren said: “I am absolutely delighted that Charlie has joined our team and we will work out a plan for him to become a two weight world champion.

“We have often spoke at my shows when Sunny has been boxing. We always got on well and shared a joke.

“The two brothers fighting for world titles on the same show isn’t a pipe-dream. We deliver and It is a realistic prospect.”

Charlie turned professional in January 2015. In his fifth fight he won the English Flyweight title against Louis Norman and two fights later added the WBC International Silver championship.

In September 2016 he fell short against high class Filipino John Riel Casimero in a IBF Flyweight title challenge, his only professional defeat.

Seven months later, Edwards outpointed Iain Butcher to become British Super-Flyweight champion, a crown now held by his younger brother, Sunny.

Charlie upset defending champion Cristofer Rosales on points to become WBC Flyweight title holder in December 2018. He made one successful defence three months later in a points decision against Angel Moreno.
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MATCHROOM LIVE AVAILABLE NOW!

Enjoy hundreds of hours of action for free
Fight fans across the world can now enjoy hundreds of hours of classic archived moments from Matchroom Boxing’s illustrious history in the sport courtesy of Matchroom Live.

The new platform allows fans to delve into the history books of all of Matchroom Sport’s offerings from over the past 30 years across a wide range of sports including darts, snooker, fishing and tenpin bowling. 

FANS CAN SIGN UP TO WATCH THE FREE ARCHIVE BY CLICKING HERE

 Fans can watch an extensive catalogue of content featuring the likes of Anthony Joshua, Katie Taylor, Chris Eubank Sr, Nigel Benn, Tony Bellew, Carl Froch and many more.Hours of Fight Night Classics, 101 Great Knockouts, Prize Fighter and Pro Box Classics will feature, as well as Eddie Hearn’s brand new Talk The Talk show starring former Cruiserweight World Champion Tony Bellew, with plenty more content to come.Matchroom Live has the ability to cast to virtually any device whether that be a console, Smart TV, or connected device.
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HEANEY JOINS THE QUEENSBERRY SQUAD

HUGELY POPULAR STOKE middleweight Nathan Heaney has signed a promotional agreement with Frank Warren and Queensberry Promotions.

Known as ‘Hitman’, the 10-0 Heaney fought on a Queensberry show – and delivered an impressive performance – back in November at Arena, Birmingham where he overcame Nelson Altamirano via a fifth round stoppage.

His most recent encounter, shortly before lockdown in mid-March, saw him defeat Christian Schembri to claim the vacant IBO Continental super middleweight title on his home patch of the Kings Hall in Stoke.

In June 2019, the now 31-year-old won the vacant Midlands Area belt on points after edging Tom Stokes over 10 rounds.

Heaney’s public profile has been notably increased in recent months by the social media release of his ring entrances in front of his passionate Stoke fans bellowing out the Tom Jones 1968 hit ‘Delilah’.

The ring walk and raucous atmosphere has captured the imagination and Heaney hopes his exploits result in major TV shows finding their way to his home town now he is under the promotional navigation of Frank Warren.

“It is like a childhood or young adult’s dream for me,” said the lifelong Stoke City supporter.

“When I was a young amateur years ago and you had the dream of winning an ABA title and that sort of stuff, the whole idea behind it was so you could get signed by Frank Warren in the end.

“That was my goal all the way through. So it is like a dream come true for me to be signed by Frank Warren. He has always been the top dog and there is no-one else like him, so this is a dream for me.

“It is a strange one because I know Frank normally signs young fighters but, while I am 31, I am a young 31 and was a late developer as well growing up. I think that is why the seniors were always tough for me in the early part of my amateur days, just because I didn’t have that man-strength.

“I genuinely now feel like I am a 24-year-old and have, one hundred per cent, got some good years left in me,” he added, before suggesting his social media stardom can only help in propelling him to the next level.

“The video that went viral of me recently means people across the country recognise my name a little bit more, but I have also been performing well and I won the Midlands Area title against a good kid, while being matched really well.

“So while I’ve got the entrance and all my supporters, luckily I can fight as well. It would be horrible to have all this support and not be able to back it up in the ring.

“I think they can really do something with my crowd because I believe the occasions to be amongst the most exciting in the UK. They don’t stop singing all the way through, they are loyal as anything and I really believe Frank Warren and Queensberry can build something around my support – I really do.

“I will wait to see what the plans for me are in terms of what titles to go for and who they want me fighting. Be it Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool – I know I will take a lot of people with me.

“While plans are, indeed, being drawn up down promotional corridors, Heaney himself has recently become something of a target for fellow 160-pounders with several call-outs coming via social media channels.

“It’s funny because at first I thought they were just calling for me because they thought they could beat me, but then I realised. There is a lad down south – I don’t want to mention his name – who keeps mentioning me and I know why he’s doing it.

“When you mention the Stoke lad they know they will sell loads more tickets. It is like using my name and my supporters to basically jump start their careers, whereas I had to put the graft in and build up my following.

“They are just trying to jump on the train. If they had half a football backing and their supporters knew they were fighting a lad from Stoke, they would sell hundreds more tickets.

“I replied saying ‘pay your dues to the professional game, win some ranking points and then I will happily sort you out. Until then stop talking about me because my missus is getting jealous!

“I’ve got a few fighters wanting to fight me now so I won’t be short of opponents when we get going again.”
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MATCHROOM BOXING LAUNCH NEW PODCAST

‘The Lockdown Tapes’ premieres podcast offering
Matchroom Boxing are pleased to launch the official ‘Matchroom Boxing Podcast’.

Our first series ’The Lockdown Tapes’ will alternate between Matchroom’s UK and US stable, airing every Wednesday and Sunday over the coming weeks and is proudly supported by WOW Hydrate.

Unbeaten Light-Heavyweight sensation Joshua Buatsi and WBC Lightweight King Devin Haney feature in the first two episodes of this 18 part series. 

Before The Bell presenter Chris Lloyd will host the series, speaking to fighters on the current climate, reflecting on their past moves in the ring, targets moving forward plus much more.

Fans can listen to Ep 1 with Buatsi here – 

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-lockdown-tapes-joshua-buatsi-ep-01/id1506174562?i=1000470391728

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1XfMNB6Ij8md5WWqzJTrGw

Matchroom Website: https://www.matchroomboxing.com/lockdown-tapes-podcast/

The series will also sit in a video format on our YouTube channel after 48 hours from when each podcast drops.

Additional Matchroom Boxing content such as ‘Born Fighter’ and ‘Unscripted’ will now also be released in Podcast format from here on so fans can listen on the go.

Managing Director of Matchroom Boxing Eddie Hearn said: “We’re always on the lookout to keep adapting and improving our content output. A podcast has been discussed for a little while and in the current climate, this was the perfect timing to launch the Lockdown Tapes series.”
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FIGHTING FIT LAUNCHES ON SKY SPORTS

New fitness series debuts next week
Fighting Fit, a brand-new health and fitness series produced by Matchroom Boxing and Sky Sports, will land on television screens next week, with the box set available via Sky Sports On Demand from Monday 6th April.
 
Scheduled to launch on Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Main event on Monday 13th April, the show will offer tips on how to stay healthy and happy during the on-going coronavirus pandemic, with expert workouts constructed by respected strength and conditioning coach Dan Lawrence and personal training guru Bradley Simmons. 
 
Airing on weekdays at 8.00am on Sky Sports Mix and repeated at 9.00am on Sky Sports Main Event, the show will be helmed by sports presenter Layla Anna Lee, as personalities from the worlds of sport, music, TV and YouTube are put through their paces in the garden of Matchroom Boxing’s HQ. 
 
Episode one features Ilford’s rising boxing star Conor ‘The Destroyer’ Benn, son of former two-weight World Champion and British boxing legend Nigel, as he demonstrates some of the famous Benn strength and fitness that has kept him undefeated in 16 fights. 
 
An array of talent join Dan and Bradley to try their hand at the challenging workouts, from YouTube sensations Joe Weller and ‘Behzinga’, singer and songwriter Sinead Harnett, professional footballer Adebayo ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa, Olympic gold medallists Sam Quek and Luke Campbell, and even top boxing promoter Eddie Hearn. 
 
For everybody joining in with the workouts at home, not only will you be working up a sweat with famous faces – but each episode you will have the chance to outperform them with a unique exercise challenge set in each episode.

Managing Director of Matchroom Boxing Eddie Hearn said: “Right now it’s more important than ever to focus on being fit and healthy and Fighting Fit will hopefully provide a great schedule for those at home to work out and stay positive. As a live event business it a was refreshing challenge to focus our team on this project – we had a lot of fun and we hope everyone at home enjoys the series!”
 
Sky Sports’ Head of Boxing Development Adam Smith said: “At these unprecedented times it’s great to be able to make engaging fitness content available to Sky Sports viewers. Fighting Fit is a new, innovative and interactive series which our partners Matchroom have helped bring to Sky Sports. Whilst we are all rightly staying at home and supporting the amazing NHS, these terrific sporting, music and YouTube celebrities who were put through their paces – will help inspire us to exercise more and keep mentally and physically strong.”
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YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND! Fury, Frampton and Frank encourage people to #KeepTalking throughout Lockdown

Queensberry Promotions have today brought together some of their brightest stars in an effort to encourage the country to ‘keep talking’ throughout this period of lockdown.

In a tongue-in-cheek video posted to their social media channels, names such as Carl Frampton, Tyson Fury and even the boss Frank Warren took turns to sing lines from the Carole King classic “You’ve Got a Friend”.In a time of heightened anxiety, experts have warned of the dangers to people’s mental health if they lack the necessary support to help them through this period.

In response, the NHS have updated the ‘Every Mind Matters’ campaign and offered tips such as ‘Stay Connected to People’ and ‘Look After Your Body’ as a way of combating the ill effects this uncertain time can have on people’s mental state.

Tyson Fury is famously an advocate for mental health matters himself, as well as a keen singer, and is a prominent voice in the song, belting out ‘All you gotta do is call”.

Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren said: “If this video can make just one person smile, or encourage someone to reach out and speak to a mate, it’ll all be worth it.”

“This is a tough time for everyone, anyone you know could be really struggling to cope. Whether it’s your health, your finances… no one really knows what’s going on at the minute.”

“That’s why it’s important we check on people now more than ever. We’re all in this together. We’ve got to keep talking.”

Other ‘singers’ on display throughout the video include Tommy Fury, Dennis McCann, David Adeleye and, incredibly, Troy Williamson mid-shower.

For more information on the Every Mind Matters campaign visit: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips/?&gclid=CjwKCAjwvZv0BRA8EiwAD9T2VSTdIVqbCxOR22kK1HSzB3T6BCuyk3AK00s4VIdPb7nx0eSEHJNw0xoCg3YQAvD_BwE

#KeepTalking
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