Callum Johnson throws hat into the ring for Joe Smith Jr. challenge

Callum Johnson

Ed Mulholland

CALLUM JOHNSON is hoping for the first crack at new WBO World Light-Heavyweight champion Joe Smith.

Fan-friendly Johnson excited American fans on two previous appearances in the United States and hopes Smith’s promoter Bob Arum contacts Frank Warren about the fight.

The former British and Commonwealth champion said: “I have seen loads of comments on social media saying, ‘Joe Smith v Callum Johnson, what a fight,’ and it is one that excites me.”

New York’s Smith won the vacant title earlier this month when he snatched a majority decision against Russian Maxim Vlasov.

Johnson (18-1, 13 KOs) impressed in Verona, New York when he last boxed in March 2019 demolishing Sean Monaghan inside three rounds.

Five months earlier in Chicago, he lost a World title war in four rounds against the division’s top man Artur Beterbiev, but floored the IBF Champion before losing for the only time as a professional.

Johnson’s reputation soared and he returns against Emil Markic (32-2, 24 KOs) in a vacant WBO Global title clash in London on Saturday April 24, (live on BT Sport).

Boston’s Johnson said: “It’s an interesting division and there are a few of us who want to get that shot at Smith.

“If Bob Arum called Frank and offered me the fight — one million per-cent I would take it in a heartbeat.

“I wouldn’t need to think twice. That is where I want to go and I would jump straight in with Smith next if I could.

“If Frank wants to push me for WBO title I am all up for winning it against Smith and coming back to face Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde.

“Stylistically, Joe and myself is a good fight. It has been talked about before, is easy to make and one that fans like.

“I do feel I would beat Joe and bring that title back, but I have to think about Markic.

“I am expected to win and confident I will win, but Markic is no slouch. I can’t look past him. At the same time fighters do think what might come.”

Markic is ranked 15th by the WBO and a lofty world ranking is at stake when Johnson takes on the Bosnian puncher.

“Markic is a decent opponent after a long lay-off. He has a good record and can obviously punch a bit looking at his knockout ratio,” added 35-year-old Johnson.

“He is an opponent that I am not looking past or taking lightly, that is for sure.

“When I re-signed with Frank I didn’t care who I fought. I just wanted to get out there.

“I am as fresh as a daisy, but not a young lad. I don’t want to come back with six and eight rounders because I am past all that. There is no point and I haven’t got time.

“It is straight back in and getting back to where I want to be.”

Heading the show is Battersea’s Denzel Bentley (14-0-1, 12 KOs) who makes the first defence of his British Middleweight title against mandatory contender Felix Cash (13-0, 9 KOs) whose Commonwealth crown is also on the line.

Some of the best prospects in the Queensberry stable are also on show including London Heavyweight banger David Adeleye (5-0, 5 KOs) who boxes a six rounder.

Also in six round action is York Super-Welterweight George Davey (3-0) meets Jamie Stewart (2-1-1) and Super-Lightweight Henry Turner (4-0) who faces Clayton Bricknell (3-3-1).

In four rounders are Liverpool Middleweight James Heneghan (4-0) and Chatham Light-Heavyweight Karol Itauma (1-0) a Youth Olympic Gold Medallist.