Smith vs Holzken – This Saturday’s World Boxing Super Series semi-final bout will go on despite Jurgen Braehmer pulling out as fight week started. England’s Callum Smith was set to travel to Germany to face Braehmer, and Smith will now be facing Holland’s Nieky Holzken, who steps in as a late replacement.
Kudos to the WBSS on several fronts. It isn’t easy finding a late replacement and though Holzken (13-0) does not really have any type of serious reputation in boxing, he could bring a few wrinkles to Saturday’s fight. When the WBSS announced the 168 pound tournament in conjunction with their cruiserweight tournament, boxing heads were filled with memories of tournaments gone bad. With Braehmer pulling out on fight week, the WBSS has faced their first adversity and they have sent a clear message: The tournament must go on.
As for Holzken, he is entering the fight a huge underdog. It doesn’t look good for him when you consider he is a 13-0 thirty four year old who turned professional just five years ago. He tempers that with a kickboxing background prior to that and video of him shows he has good footwork and a decent body attack. Smith did not like having to go to Germany to face the hometown fighter in Braehmer, but this fight is now being fought on neutral grounds. Holzken’s main advantage is that he is an unknown and that Smith prepared to face another man.
But Smith is a guy with a deep toolbox and he should be too sophiticated for Holzken. Smith won a comfortable unanimous decision over Erik Sklglund last September in the tournament’s opening round and he knows a win here puts him in the finals.
WBA world champion George Groves awaits the winner in the tournament finals. The rugged Groves advanced with a unanimous decision victory over Chris Eubank Jr. Though Groves advanced comfortably on the judges cards, he suffered a separated shoulder.
The WBSS’ cruiserweight tournament had no such hiccups and immediately after the semi-finals were over they announced the finals for early May in the exotic location of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Groves injury likely means we will not get such an announcement after Saturday’s fight but you can expect the final to be somewhere in the United Kingdom, especially if it is Groves vs Smith.
Groves is not likely to need much time and a tournament final delivered in late June or early July would not be a big delay in the grand scheme of things. But what if he is re-injured, or some sort of surgery is required? This will test the WBSS resolve. If Groves cannot return until say October, does the WBSS invite Eubank Jr to take Groves spot? Or could an appealing fill in be lured in, such as England’s James DeGale or undefeated American Demetrius Andrade?
Both WBSS tournament so far have seen the favorite advance in every fight. Holzken will be looking to break that pattern with the longest odds any of the tournaments have seen.
Sat 2/24 – Smith vs Holzken – Arena Nuremberger Versicherung – Nuremberg, Germany
WBSS Semifinal – Super Middleweight 12 rounds –
Nieky Holzken +1500 o5½ -105
Callum Smith -4500 u5½ -135
Smith vs Holzken – WBSS Continues Saturday / Check out more boxing news and features at The Sweet Science.
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