THOUGH it can occasionally backfire, some fighters need a coach who is prepared to go out there, stick their neck on the line and bat for them.
For WBA super-middleweight champion Callum Smith, Joe Gallagher is that man.
The excitable Mancunian has an energy and passion unrivalled in the British game and has recently been using this to crank up the pressure on those responsible for promoting Smith, 26-0 (19), and to petition for his man to get the attention, money and opportunities he deserves.
One such opportunity, a potential fight against WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, became even more appealing following Kovalev’s August 24 fight against another Briton, Anthony Yarde.
Though he ultimately triumphed, retaining his title in the 11th round, Kovalev showed tell-tale signs of being there for the taking, Gallagher believes.
“Kovalev’s a great fighter, a great champion, but we’ll do him,” Gallagher told Boxing News. “Straight away I said to Eddie (Hearn, promoter), ‘If that Kovalev and Canelo (Alvarez) deal falls through, we’ll take Kovalev.’ He said, ‘Yeah, we’ve had everyone on the phone.’
“I’m thinking Eddie’s probably thinking, I’ll put (Joshua) Buatsi on him. Or, I’ll put someone else on him.
“No. Get Callum Smith in there with him. Have him become the first name that comes out of your mouth.
“No one has seen the best of Callum Smith. He’s in his prime at 29.”
Because Smith’s in his prime, the concern is that good years could go to waste. At super-middleweight, he is considered the number one, yes, but only because the division is flooded with young, unproven champions and because Smith beat George Groves, one of the elder statesmen, the last of an era ruled by Andre Ward and then Carl Froch. Smith’s reign, in fact, so far consists of just one defence (an easy one against Hassan N’Dam in June), which means there is more to do and plenty for him to still accomplish at 12 stone.
“Callum Smith wants to unify the belts,” said Gallagher, “but how does he do that? He can’t get (David) Benavidez and he can’t get (Caleb) Plant. They’re with Al Haymon. We’re f**ked there then.
“So, what do you want to do instead? Callum says, ‘I want the Canelo fight.’ How do you get Canelo? You’ve got to be on DAZN for starters and you’ve got to go with Golden Boy. Can you get in with them? Doubt it.
“Shall we move up to light-heavyweight? F**k it, let’s move up. We’ve conquered the world at super-middleweight, let’s move up.
“Who has got the light-heavyweights? Bob Arum and Top Rank. Let’s go over there then. Or shall we stick with Eddie? He’s promised us Anfield. All right, that’s good, let’s go to Anfield. Who are we fighting at Anfield? Don’t know. What about Billy Joe? He doesn’t sell tickets. I don’t know what he’s going to do. He might fight [Demetrius] Andrade.’
“Okay. What about Triple G [Gennady Golovkin]? He’s a middleweight. Will he come to Anfield? Don’t know. Will he most likely take a Canelo third fight over a fight against Callum? Most probably.”
If it sounds to you like Joe Gallagher has lost his mind, you’re probably premature. Certainly, though, he’s losing faith in what it means to be a world champion in 2019 and losing patience on behalf of a fighter whose very style is contingent on staying relaxed, measured and calm. He’s ensuring his voice is heard. He’s campaigning. He’s fighting the big guns.
If only Callum Smith had the chance to do the same.