CURTIS WOODHOUSE: Smith is the real deal and Vardy gives us all hope

Curtis Woodhouse

Curtis Woodhouse

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I was really looking forward to the Callum Smith versus Rocky Fielding fight on Saturday.

I call it a fight, but in reality it was a demolition job on Smith’s part.

I expected a pretty close contest to be honest, but I, along with Fielding, was blown away by Smith’s explosive performance.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought Smith would win, but Fielding is a very awkward customer and I thought he would made it difficult for the Liverpudlian.

In the end, we just got a brutal demonstration of just how good Smith is, which highlights the huge gulf in class between world level fighters, and decent domestic boxers.

Fielding was simply out of his depth, but it’s not all doom and gloom for him, he’s still very young, he still has a lot to learn, he’s got lots of potential and he’ll bounce back from this.

Smith, on the other hand looks ready to be let off the leash.

He’s a boxer who can go all the way to the top and it’s now time for him to be allowed to go and test himself against genuine world class opponents.

From here, I wonder if a fight with Arthur Abrahams wouldn’t be a good next step.

Yes, Abrahams is tough, but he’s pretty one-dimensional and I’d back Smith to beat him.

There’s a pretty interesting back story that would add a bit of extra spice to this bout as Abrahams has beaten Paul Smith, so this could be a great chance for the younger brother to take revenge for that defeat.

Watching and talking about Callum got me on to thinking about which of the four Smiths is the best fighter.

It’s an incredibly tough one to call, but I suppose you would have to say that, as a current world champion, Liam Smith is the best because he’s the most successful.

The thing that you have to say is that the Smith brothers don’t get the recognition that they deserve, but that’s because boxing doesn’t get the same column inches as a lot of other sports.

It’s basically the equivalent of four brothers playing for the England football team, and you can imagine how much coverage something like that would get in the press.

Let’s put the Smiths’ achievements into perspective.

A city the size of Hull has never ever had a British champion, yet there is a household in Liverpool that boasts four all on its own.

What the four of them have done is incredible and I very much doubt that we’ll ever see anything like it in the sport again.

VARDY GIVES US ALL HOPE ...

Jamie Vardy has been hitting the headlines in recent weeks, but as a non-league manager, his progress is something I have been following for a while.

Vardy is someone I played against while he was at Stocksbridge and he looked a class act even then.

He’s made his way up the leagues and now he’s reached the pinnacle, he’s currently the top-scorer in the Premier League and starting games for England.

He’s a trailblazer for non-league footballers, and his rise shows that the academy system that so many people seem obsessed with, is not actually the be all and end all.

The thing to remember is that all players develop at different rates . When I was 16, I was too weak, but by the time I was 18 I was in great shape.

My body changed and developed massively in the space of 24 months.

Some players are late developers, and just because they’re not ready at the age of 16 or 17 and end up getting released by their club, doesn’t mean that they have no future in the game.

I say to any young player I speak to that if you’re not playing first team football by the time you’re 18 or 19, then you need to leave and go and get a game elsewhere.

Playing in the under-18s or under-21s basically equates to playing non-contact football, which is of no benefit.

Young lads need to be out playing senior football, and learning the game, it doesn’t matter if you have to drop down three or four levels to do so. If you’re good enough, you’ll make your way back up, just like Vardy has done.

He’s a player who has gone out and got kicked up in the air by big, horrible centre-halves and toughened himself up and learnt the game and now he’s reaping the rewards.

Since I started managing in non-league football I have realised that there are so many gems out there, just waiting to be picked up.

What Vardy’s story proves, is that there is hope for all these players in the lower echelons of football, and that the dream of making it to the top of the game is not unatainable.