Exclusive: Trainer Gallagher talks Smith v Braehmer, sees WBSS becoming a ‘Champions League of Boxing’

Jacob Kilbride 12/02/2018

Stacey Verbeek

Trainer Joe Gallagher has insisted that he and Callum Smith will be not be underestimating Juergen Braehmer ahead of their World Boxing Super Series semi-final clash on February 24th.

Undefeated WBC Diamond champion Smith (23-0, 17 KO’s) faces twice light heavyweight world champion Braehmer (49-3) in the second of the semi-finals at super-middleweight, with the winner to face either George Groves or Chris Eubank Jr in the lucrative final.

Smith is the odds-on bookies’ favourite to come away from Nuremberg victorious, but his trainer Gallagher stressed that the veteran Braehmer will be a tough fight.

“It’s a huge fight and the biggest of his career,” Gallagher exclusively told World Boxing News. “He’s fighting a former world champion, from a heavier weight division.”

“In his last fight, he fought a younger, smaller fighter (Rob Brant), but Braehmer did the distance, the full 12 rounds. He showed good feet, landed some power shots and he’s still got some very good technical ability.”

“He was also a world-class amateur was Braehmer and people forget about that. He’s beaten Felix Sturm and Carl Froch and even knocked down Ricky Hatton as an amateur.”

“The last thing a fighter loses is his power. It’s a tough and an interesting fight as well.”

Gallagher had previously stated that the fight should take place on neutral ground but with the fight now to take place in Braehmer’s home country, he believes Smith will have to be at his best to earn the victory.

“I think with the fight taking place in Germany, it put extra pressure on the officials,” he continued. I think it’s well documented that we didn’t want to go to Germany.”

“We felt that it should have been on neutral ground, considering it’s the World Boxing Super Series.

“Only through past experiences, with Matthew Macklin, who I think 99% (of people) in the boxing world commentated that night that he should have been crowned world champion (against Felix Sturm).

“I just don’t want that to happen again in Germany when Callum Smith fights there against a national hero in Braehmer. We’ve just got to go in there with the mindset to win every second of every minute of every round and leave nothing to chance.”

Reflecting on the tournament, the former Ring magazine trainer of the year felt that it came at a perfect time for Smith, who’d seen negotiations for a potential fight against Anthony Dirrell for the vacant WBC world title drag on for months.

“I think the tournament has been brilliant and I think it’s a great idea,” acclaimed Gallagher. “When we went into it, there was a lot of people saying ‘you’ve made a bad move there’.

“For Callum Smith, who’d been inactive and had the (Anthony) Dirrell thing dragging on and dragging on. I think we’d been mandatory challenger for 18 months and we still weren’t getting a title shot.”

“But, when we looked at the series (and) we had a format which was three fights, and if you come out of the end of it, you’re world champion.

“There’s been real excitement about the tournament, especially with the names like George Groves and Chris Eubank (Jr) in there as well.”

“It’s a good format and hopefully it continues with other divisions over the coming years and it becomes a sort of Champions League of boxing, like you see in football.”

Jacob Kilbride is a staff writer for World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @jacob_kilbride