LIVERPOOL’S WBA super-middleweight champion Callum Smith is on the hunt for big fights, either at his natural weight or light-heavyweight, and recently found himself linked to one against the WBO ruler at 175 pounds, Sergey Kovalev.

Be careful what you wish for seems to be the message from Team Kovalev, however. According to Kathy Duva, the Main Events CEO and promoter of Kovalev, they would be more than happy to oblige Smith and welcome him to the light-heavyweight division at some point in 2019.

“As my friend [promoter] Barry Hearn well knows, Callum Smith has been on our wish list for a long time,” Duva told Sky Sports.

“Sergey is now back on top of the division. He has never avoided fighting anyone.

“As far as we are concerned, the contenders should all line up and he will take them one at a time. It’s refreshing to see a young champion [Smith] who is willing to challenge himself.

“I know that Sergey respects that and so do I. That’s what boxing should be about.”

Talk of Smith fighting Kovalev followed the Russian’s revenge win over Eleider Alvarez on February and was kick-started by the super-middleweight’s trainer and manager, Joe Gallagher. He was quoted as saying, “They’re the big fights we want, and even with Kovalev winning at the weekend, there’s a possibility, if no one wants to dance with us at super-middleweight, that we’d move up and fight Kovalev.

“I think that would get everyone excited. They’re the type of fights we want for Callum Smith.”

As with everything in boxing, a Smith move to light-heavyweight, and a fight against Kovalev, will be all about timing. Get it right and the 28-year-old will be quids in – a two-weight world champion. Get it wrong, however, and years of good work could come undone in the most painful of ways.

Sergey Kovalev

Boxing is a quieter, duller place without Nicaraguan wild man Ricardo Mayorga around, so it’s with a combination of delight, relief, trepidation and dismay we report his return to the ring in Guatemala on April 6.

This bout, his first in 12 months, will be against talented amateur Lester Martinez, who feels no way about making his pro debut against a former two-time world champion. That Mayorga is now 45 years of age and remains a chain-smoking, beer-guzzling outlaw presumably has a lot to do with Martinez’s ambition, but it’s an interesting choice of debut opponent nonetheless.

As for Mayorga, 32-11-1 (26), he maintains he is boxing for the right reasons – read: nothing to do with money – and that this latest return to the ring is all about his thirst for a challenge.

“I like challenges,” Mayorga told Haxel Ruben Murillo of “I have a sports bar business; my wife has a nail salon. I have money in the bank, I always live on interest, and I’m fine.

“Why do I keep fighting? I’m looking to win my final fights, nothing more. If they talk about Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, the most famous person in the world, then why can’t they not talk about anyone? How can they not talk about me? Those people who criticise are envious. They are people who are not happy.”

For what it’s worth, ‘El Matador’ stands to make a reported $8,000 for the six-rounder at 170 pounds but admits he had never heard of Lester Martinez until he was offered the fight against him. He is adamant, however, that he will show up in decent shape, still carries power, and will attempt to win. So, yeah, that’s something at least.

“The debuting boy wants to fight with me, and I accepted,” Mayorga said. “I still have the power to knock him out because I haven’t lost my punch. This boy made a mistake and should have thought about facing an easier opponent. I’m going to knock him out quickly, in the first round.

“If I lose, I’ll definitely hang up the gloves.”

It’s not the first time Ricardo Mayorga has promised retirement. Nor is this the first time he has reneged on a retirement promise and wound up back in the ring. Don’t blame the player, though. Blame the game.