DALTON SMITH is among the finest prospects in the country and on Saturday night (August 6) he gets the chance to win the vacant British title. That he takes on Sam O’maison, who has only seen four rounds of action in three years, says plenty about the championship’s dwindling importance.

The Lonsdale Belt is arguably the sport’s best-looking trophy. It’s unquestionably the most historic. But to be champion of Britain no longer means to be Britain’s best and, too frequently, we see new kings relinquish their titles without attempting to seek out their closest domestic rivals.

It is understandable why, with the likes of Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall riding high at 140lbs, certain fighters don’t – or no longer need to – fight for the national strap. But it can’t be denied that a more favourable route for up-and-comers, no doubt courtesy of advice from managers and promoters, is to fight obscure continental names for even more obscure continental belts to gain a ‘world ranking’. It also highlights the very real difficulty in making fights between boxers who are represented by rival promoters.  

Smith, 11-0 (9), is on the fringes of the domestic top 10 while O’maison’s recent form can’t place him much higher than 20 in a division that also includes Ohara Davies, Robbie Davies Jnr, Lewis Ritson, Sam Maxwell, Akeem Ennis Brown, Kaisee Benjamin, Harlem Eubank, Jack Rafferty and Adam Azim. 

All of that is more an observation of the current system than a criticism of this contest. What we will know after this 12-round local derby is the name of Sheffield’s top 140-pounder and expect this one to be a hotly contested affair. But it’s difficult to envision O’maison, 17-3-1 (7), having the firepower to compete with Smith, who has looked exceptional in recent outings. That run of form has coincided with comparative inactivity for the underdog [inset]. Since losing a tight rematch to Kay Prospere in September 2019 for the English championship, he beat Serge Ambomo (7-29-3) over four. During that time, Smith has looked sensational when beating Nathan Bennett, Ishmael Ellis, Lee Appleyard, Brian Pelaez and Ray Moylette. We expect him to win this one inside schedule, but whether he sticks around as the British champion afterwards remains to be seen.

The promising Sandy Ryan, 3-1 (2), continues to be matched tough. Just five months after losing to the vastly more experienced Erica Anabella Farias over 10, the Derby starlet goes back in with the Argentine veteran, 27-5 (10). Though the cards were split in March, Farias looked the clear winner, so Ryan has it all to do. But the 28-year-old, who improved during the course of their first battle, can win on points this time.

Manchester cruiserweight Jordan Thompson, 13-0 (11), could get his hands on one of those aforementioned continental gongs when he takes on Vasil Ducar, a durable stalwart from the Czech Republic. Ducar, 11-5-1 (10), was stopped in 10 rounds by Mike Perez in March and went the full route with Chris Billam-Smith 12 months before that. This is a step-up of sorts for the rangy Thompson, but we expect him to prevail inside schedule.

Also on the Matchroom-promoted and DAZN-televised event is Leeds talent Hopey Price. The super-bantamweight, 7-0 (3), should get some rounds out of Nicaragua’s Alexander Mejia, 18-3 (7), but an upset is unlikely. 

Also appearing are Keiron ConwayCampbell HattonJohnny FisherAquib FiazNico LeivarsJunaid Boston and Callum Beardow

The Verdict: Smith is always a joy to watch but Farias-Ryan could be the fight of the night.