By Trevor McIntyre: Negotiations for a fight between WBA Super World super middleweight champion Callum Smith and former WBA ‘regular’ middleweight weight champ Hassan N’Dam are close to being finalized for the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. on June 1 on DAZN and Sky Sports Box Office at Madison Square Garden in New York. Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has been holding off at making the announcement for the Smith vs. N’Dam fight until he gets the fight signed, but it’s now close, according to Dan Rafael.
Smith won’t be dumped on by fans for facing N’Dam
The fans aren’t expected to give Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) too much gruff for being pitted against a middleweight in N’Dam (37-3, 21 KOs) instead of one of the top contenders in the 168-pound division. The American Boxing fans don’t closely follow the super middleweight division, so they won’t pay attention to Smith being put in with a fighter that fights in the middleweight division. The fans that will be tuning in on June 1 to watch the card on DAZN will be focusing more on the headliner fight between Joshua and California native Ruiz Jr. Smith vs. N’Dam is one of the many undercard fights on the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. fight card.
Smith, 29, will be making his first defense of his WBA 168-pound title that he won last September with his seventh round knockout victory over George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series [WBSS] super middleweight tournament final in Jeddah, SAudi Arabia.
“It’s very close,” Hearn said to ESPN.com. “We’re probably 24, 48 hours away from it being finalized.”
The 35-year-old N’Dam has spent most of his 15-year pro career fighting at middleweight, but he’s had occasional fights in the 168-lb division and done well. N’Dam recently defeated Martin Murray by a 12 round majority decision on December 22 in Manchester, England.
N’Dam was in the running for GGG fight
N’Dam was one of the options that former IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and his team were looking over for his June 8th confidence builder fight on DAZN at Madison Square Garden in New York. For some reason, GGG and his team chose to go in the direction of inexperienced 35-year-old Steve Rolls (19-0, 10 KOs) instead of N’Dam. With DAZN making a fuss about the quality of Golovkin’s June 8th opponent, they chose to go with the easier option in Rolls.
N’Dam has accomplished much more in his career than Rolls, who has been matched weakly by his management during his 10-year pro career. Golovkin vs. N’Dam would have been a bad fight a well for GGG to take. With Saul Canelo Alvarez beating WBA World super middleweight champion Rocky Fielding and IBF 168-pound champion Daniel Jacobs in his last two fights, it looks bad that Golovkin is fighting Rolls, and it would have looked almost as bad if he’d selected N’Dam. Callum gets a free pass in facing N’Dam because the U.S Boxing fans don’t have any idea who he is. The hardcore fans know of Smith, but they also see him as a a fighter with very little experience, who took advantage of Groves having a shoulder problem to defeat him in the final of the WBSS last September. Callum has a lot of proving to do before he’ll be seen as a major player at super middleweight by fans.
Callum will have pressure on him to look good against N’Dam
With Smith matched against an old middleweight in 35-year-old N’Dam, who was recently stopped by Ryota Murata in October 2017, the fans are going to want to see an emphatic win for the 6’3″ Liverpool native. There are some who are saying that Callum is the best fighter in the 168-pound division today. That’s even more of a reason why Smith will need to win this fight with ease against N’Dam.