Bradley Smith

Making a professional debut can be daunting – some make that step early and some make it late.  Few make it at the age of 18, but that was the case for Bradley Smith (1-0-0) of St Ives, Cambridge.  “It was a shutout victory and I won it clearly against Ivailo Boyanov (1-1-1) but it’s not how I box” he tells me, reflecting back on a stormy debut fight on 4th July this year.  “I took the decision and people thought I boxed alright – the ones who bought tickets loved it! It was an absolute scrap and for your debut it’s not what you want – all I had to do was box the kid but I got cut from a headbutt – the geezer kept using his elbow.”
 
Perhaps age allowed the occasion to get the better of him.  But this is a lad who comes to the professional game with plentiful experience.  As an amateur he had 49 fights and reached two national semi finals, so his pedigree is unquestioned.  “I’ve been in with every GB person around my age from 46 kilos to 64.  I’ve boxed the European champion, beat the Irish champion.”  Not many are exposed to that level before turning professional, but it was a sour end to his days in the unpaid ranks.  There was a realisation for him that perhaps the glass ceiling had been reached and that the notoriously questionable decisions were working against him, as he tells me:
 
“I was never going to get in the podium GB squad unless I won the seniors and I would have had to wait another year to be in there.  I got a bad decision against an England boy that day and I had enough of it.  I got robbed in a few other fights, but that one done me in.”
 
Disappointed with the amateur sport he decided it was time to try his hand at earning a living from boxing.  Like most newly turned professionals, Smith has to find a way to make ends meet and that has meant making some sacrifices.  “I was training up in London full time with Tommy Martin and his coach Barry Smith who I had my first fight with but it’s too hard financially to live up there.  So I’ve come back and work three das a week now and train with my old amateur coach who’s getting the best out of me in St Ives”
 
Now out of London and back home, he has a supportive network around him of people that want to ensure he gets the best opportunity at making a success in the sport.  His father has been there from the start at ten years old down his first boxing club.  His dad tells me about the experience of watching a son take to the ring: “At ten years old he was at Southend football club, he was a very good footballer but one day he came home and said “I’m going down the boxing club dad”.  I just thought it would last about a week – he’ll get punched in the face and that’ll be it!  I’ve never missed one of his fights.  As an amateur I never missed one of his training sessions and I ended up working at the club in the end, working with the little kids.  Some of the fights are hard, like where he broke his nose with an elbow, there was loads of blood everywhere.”
 
His dad recalls days of old, watching Nigel Benn and the times he would travel to Vegas to watch Ricky Hatton.  It turns out that Bradley shares his affection for the Mancunian former world title holder.  “I love Ricky Hatton, he was so exciting to watch and I just want to be like him!”
 
Hatton loved a tear up and would rip in to his opponents with vicious body shots, creating a spectacle that would lend itself to the pay per view market in the UK and the US, famously fighting the likes of Mayweather and Pacquaio on headline shows under the bright lights.  Promoter Steve Goodwin assures me that Smith could have that same appeal.  “Bradley is a TV fighter, I’ve no doubt about that” says Steve.
 
Goodwin Promotions is now the home of Bradley Smith, and it was an easy choice for the young man from Cambridge to make.  “I spoke to a few people and everyone said Steve is the best for going with – I didn’t have the Sky and Matchroom interest so I met with Steve and the team and they’re good people so I made the decision.”
Bradley Smith

Goodwin Promotions have their residency at York Hall in London, where Smith will have the opportunity to showcase his talents again on October 17th as part of the huge ‘We Never Stop’ bill.  With multiple title fights and eliminators it provides a quality platform for him to show a different side of his fighting style.  So what can we expect to see?  “Last time I went out and wanted the KO and looked for it straight away, I went steaming and once your head’s gone you can’t revert back to boxing, but if you start boxing you can get in to a scrap if you need to.  The emotions got the better of me when I was warming up but I’ve learnt from it now and you’ll see a different me on October 17th.”

On the night he will be facing Ireland’s Alec Bazza (0-9-1).  Not a fighter with the best record, he has faced the likes of Anthony Upton and Michael Devine and rarely gets stopped (only twice in nine fights) so it provides a good benchmark for Smith to compare himself against.  The fight is due to take place at light welterweight, but according to Smith his more comfortable weight to challenge at will be in the lightweight division. 

At only 18 years of age, Smith is very aware that time is on his side.  He speaks with maturity about the levels he wishes to reach and the time he is prepared to take to get there.  “I don’t want to hit Southern Area level at 19 and then have to be there for another 15 years” he says.  “I’m only eighteen and want to get fights under my belt.  I don’t want to hit that level too early and have to be there for the rest of my career, so it’s all about taking my time.”

When the conversation turns to his motivation as a fighter Bradley Smith is clear and direct about what drives him  “I want to win belts.  I see other fighters at certain levels and know in my head I’m better than them – I just have to be patient and I will get to that level.”  It is that level headedness that makes you believe this 18 year old has a bright future in the fight game.  When we go back to his fight on October 17th, he reassures me “you will see a different me now”.  Alas we might see a different Smith in the future, but for now there stands a young man with an excellent opportunity, a superb team of support and the potential to go a long way.

There are a number of key sponsors who are integral to Smith’s boxing career, including boxer short company called Jacksy, roofing company CoverSpan and a private sponsor who wishes to remain so, but is important nonetheless.