Exclusive: Joe Gallagher talks Paul Butler return, eyes world title fights for all four Smith Bros.

Phil Jay 20/10/2016

Joe Gallagher

An eager Joe Gallagher is looking forward to seeing former world champion Paul Butler’s progress this weekend when the Ellesmere Port favourite makes his debut under the renowned UK trainer.

Butler, 27, fights at Bolton Whites Hotel, sharing top billing with middleweight prospect Jamie Cox on a mammoth Frank Warren card, and Gallagher has been impressed with what Bulter has shown since the pair linked up over the summer.

“I’m really excited about Paul Butler. He’s really coming on in the gym,” Gallagher exclusively told World Boxing News.

“I’m glad he’s having this bit of a fight before we move on to anything else or any big fights because he’s still got an awful lot to learn.

“He’s very much like Liam Smith, you only have to tell him once and it sinks in with him. He can read a fight well too and he listens to instructions.”

‘The Baby-faced Assassin’ joined an already bustling camp under Gallagher alongside Liverpool’s most famous boxing family, going through his daily routines with Paul, Stephen, Liam and Callum Smith.

Surrendering their only world champion when Liam lost out to Canelo Alvarez last month, Gallagher is currently training Stephen for a second shot at world honours and hopes all four brothers will contest recognised belts over the course of the season.

“Liam Smith was defeated against Canelo but Stephen has another chance and Callum Smith is now on the verge as the number one contender at super-middleweight,” pointed out Gallagher. “Paul may get another shot too and then we could see all four of the Smith brothers fighting for world titles again in one season – what an achievement that would be!

“I keep saying it, but what these brothers in Team Smith are doing for boxing is a fantastic achievement for the family and for the City of Liverpool. I still don’t know why there isn’t more written about these lads as they keep raising the bar and performing bigger and bigger stages. The main outlets, national papers and everything else should be giving these lads far more credit.

“I mean, it was a great achievement for all the Smith’s to win British titles, but to then go on and win world titles with Liam Smith, who only lost to Canelo – one of the best in the world, and Paul Smith losing to Abraham, another one of the best fighters there’s been at the super middleweight. Then Callum Smith worked his way to mandatory in the same division and Stephen challenging Pedraza before aiming to bounce back against Sosa. You have to agree that none of them have disgraced themselves in any of the world title challenges.

“There’s still a long way to go in the season and their all coming back. I can see all of them getting another bite of the cherry, not just Stephen, so I believe more should be done and written about them as they deserve far more accolades.”

As Paul awaits possible news of what could be a final world title shot and Liam is still to return from his maiden loss, attention turns to Stephen’s attempt in Monaco on November 12 as Callum remains in limbo. Callum, the youngest of the brothers at 26, has been waiting almost a year for his shot at WBC 168 pound title holder Badou Jack, but faces a further wait due to unification talks with James DeGale.

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Credit: Lawrence Lustig

Gallagher is now looking for ‘Mundo’ to make the first defence of the British belt he took from fellow Liverpudlian Rocky Fielding last November as British number one Luke Blackledge steps up to challenge sometime before Christmas.

“We’ve got to defend against Blackledge but we will still be pushing the WBC for that Badou Jack mandatory,” he explained. “Jack was due to fight Callum in September but as DeGale is a unification we have to wait and see.

“I’m not sure Jack v DeGale is happening now and were pushing for Callum to get his mandatory shot. He’s next in line and we are calling for that fight to be made. In the meantime, Callum is in training for Blackledge, but whether that becomes in November or December we will find out over the next week or so.

“If Callum does manage to get the WBC belt soon, and we have George Groves making moves in the WBA ranks, you could have a situation where three Brits are holding world titles in the division, Callum, Groves and DeGale. What’s to say there can’t be some type of big tournament next year featuring Smith v Groves or Smith versus a Groves v DeGale rematch winner?

“We could have one Briton holding three belts by the end of next year, plus you’ve got another North West fighter in Martin Murray at the same weight. There are five or six world class fighters in the UK at super-middleweight which can only be good for boxing and will make good fights for Callum and Paul.”