After a frustrating eighteenth months Leeds lightweight Sam Smith has her sights firmly set on making a statement as she returns to action on the big Bowler’s show on 18th November. With an opponent still to be named, the youthful 37 year old knows that time is tight to reach the championship level she craves, and with little margin for error Smith is under pressure to deliver. A pro since March 2015, the painter and decorator and personal trainer who is also co-owner of her own gym, The Alliance Boxing Club, has compiled a good record of six wins from seven fights, the only loss being a defeat on points against big puncher Dominican Christina Linardatu who went on to challenge for the WBC world female lightweight title just two fights later. Clearly, Smith is not only a woman of some substance away from the ring but also a pretty formidable boxer inside it with a blitzkrieg, come forward style that the fans adore.
With her training camp in full flow, Smith is relishing the chance at getting back into the fray: “We’ve been down to Ricky Hatton’s gym for the first of my sparring for this fight, and I did six rounds on the Monday and eight rounds on the Friday so I’m in good shape. It’s been a slow year, so I’ve been training and ticking over but not hard at it. I was due to fight on a Steve Goodwin show but my little boy got ill and needed an operation, so obviously that had to come first, then we had a couple of shows in Leeds that fell through but now everything is falling into place and coming good.” The enforced absence from the ring may have been unavoidable, but it was a difficult period: “It was frustrating because as a fighter you just want to fight. I’ve only got a couple of years left in the game really, so we’re going forward fully intending to have a good crack at it. The loss to Linardatu was a blow and it was the first time I’d ever hit the canvas, but I was able to take positives from it. I was put down heavily in the first round but I got back up and fought to a points decision, so I know I can go ten hard rounds and if I get knocked down I can get back up. At the time it was hard to swallow, but now I think it was meant to be. It all happens for a reason I guess.”
The modest Smith isn’t one to congratulate herself without reason and is constantly seeking to refine her style: “We’re working on a lot of different stuff now to improve aspects of my game. It was good to get a win back (a points win over Taoussy L’Hadji in February 2016) after the loss to Linardatou, but I thought I could have done better. You should be constantly learning in boxing, and presently I’m working hard on breaking people down and going to the body more rather than looking for the big single shots.” The popularity of the Leeds fighter is evident wherever she fights, and she’s certainly grateful for her loyal barmy army: “We’ve got two coaches of fans coming to the fight so I’m really lucky, and I know most of them personally! I just can’t wait to get back into action after the timeout and putting into practice what we’ve been working on in the gym.
“We’re looking at getting a few fights after this and I’ll leave that to my manager Steve Goodwin. Ultimately I want to be in the championship picture and ideally go for a Lonsdale belt, and that would be brilliant but right now I’m concentrating on this fight. The Manchester boxing scene has a lot of come-forward fighters, and I’m going to compliment that well. I’m an exciting fighter who’s willing to take shots to land my own – much to my trainer’s despair! – but I do like to get inside and get involved. The fans are going to see a good match on the 18th November however long it lasts – one round, two rounds or six rounds it’s going to be explosive!”
There’s obvious sincerity in Smith’s voice as she promises a good performance, and on a stacked bill at Bowler’s Exhibition Centre, her fight could well steal the show.
Interview by Andrew Fairley (@AndrewFairley1)