Dalton Smith interview: Sheffield boxer eyeing British title as Eddie Hearn tips him for world glory

Dalton Smith recalls feeling downhearted when he was unable to achieve his Olympic dream but as he sets his sights on the British title tonight he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Sheffield fighter had his first professional fight in May 2019 after making the decision to forego the Tokyo Olympics.

Since that points win over Luka Leskovic the 25-year-old has won his next 10 professional bouts and picked up the English, WBC international silver and WBA inter-continental titles at super lightweight.

Next on his list is the British belt as he squares off with fellow Sheffield boxer Sam O’maison at the Utilita Arena in South Yorkshire tonight.

Smith had always harboured an ambition to win an Olympic medal. He enjoyed a hugely-decorated amateur career and was – still is – the next big name off the Steel City production line.

However, injuries to his hands caused by hand wrapping rules in the amateurs and a change of weights for the Olympic Games led to him turning professional at the age of 22.

“I am very proud of my amateur career. I won a number of medals and titles and travelled the world with the Great Britain team,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

“I never got to the Olympics, that was my number one goal but looking back that was probably the best decision I made.

Undefeated: Sheffield’s Dalton Smith, who has an 11-0 record in the professional ranks, is a rising star of British boxing and fights for the Lonsdale belt in his home city tonight. (Picture: Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

“The Olympics were postponed and then we had the pandemic and by the time they started again, I was well into my professional career. I was down about it at the time but I was having a lot of injuries to my hands with the wrapping and we felt it was right to turn professional.

“The big names that came from Sheffield, they were the people to look up to when I was coming through the ranks.

“I wanted to achieve what they were achieving.

“I always wanted to win that Olympic medal. That was in my vision at the time.

Dalton Smith in action in Cardiff in June (Picture: Getty Images)

“When I sat down with my Dad and the management team, we felt it was right to turn professional. I have no regrets, I am happy with where I am. It is about looking ahead.”

When Smith first walked into a boxing gym just before he turned six, his father Grant was with him and stepping through the doors for the first time himself.

Now his Dad is his trainer, as the father and son duo learned on the job together.

“I was five when I first got into boxing with my dad. He is my coach and we both got into it together,” he explained.

Dalton Smith celebrates victory with their team and the WBC International Silver Super Lightweight belt after the WBC International Silver Super Lightweight Title fight against Mauro Perouene at Motorpoint Arena Cardiff on June 04, 2022. (Picture: Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

“I always remember I was playing football at the time, I wasn’t the most talented and I think that is where I found the love of boxing.

“I got the bug for it. I have never looked back, it has been my number one passion since.

“I am only three years into my professional career but I have picked up a good few titles along the way.

“I feel like I have moved at a pretty decent pace. The British title, it is not an easy belt to win.

“I have boxed decent opposition and now it is just about stepping the levels up each time and bringing something new to each fight.”

Smith is still a football fan and has been ardently backed by Sheffield Wednesday supporters from the early stages of his career. However, the 25-year-old wants to get the whole city behind him as he hopes to bring more big nights back to Sheffield.

Dalton Smith could have been an olympian but chose to quit the amateur game to chase his professional dreams. (Picture: Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

“I have been blown away by the support that I have got,” he continued.

“I am expecting a big atmosphere and plenty of support at the Arena. The backing of Sheffield Wednesday and the support there; I am expecting a noisy night.

“I am a supporter of the club and they have always supported me, even before I turned professional. Each fight I have had, they have promoted me more and the fans have got behind me along the way.

“It has built up like that. I like to stay away from the Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United rivalry because at the end of the day I am a boxer.

“I support the club and they support me but I just want to bring big nights back to Sheffield. I am a Sheffield boy.”

Smith feels that O’maison has the potential to be his toughest opponent to date.

The 31-year-old, also from Sheffield, has won 17 of his 21 professional outings, losing three times and drawing once. He was crowned English champion in 2018 but lost his belt in 2019 after a majority decision draw against Kay Prospere meant a rematch which Prospere won by unanimous decision.

That defeat in September 2019 would be the last time O’maison stepped into the squared circle for almost three years. He returned to the ring in May and scored a points win over Serge Ambomo.

“One of the negatives for Sam is that he has been a little bit inactive,” said Smith.

“We know each other, we did a bit of sparring together a couple of years ago.

“We are two lads from Sheffield, probably at similar stages of our career and at the same level.

“We have both won the English title, it is a big fight in Sheffield between two local lads.

“On paper, he is my toughest opponent but it all comes down to what happens on fight night.

“It could be one of my easiest, it could be one of my hardest. I just need to be prepared for anything that comes my way.”

With a handful of belts in his collection, how much would it mean to Smith to put a Lonsdale belt on?

He says: “Every British fighter knows how prestigious those British titles are.

“I have seen so many fights growing up for the British title and thought I always wanted to win it one day.

“I have trained 100 per cent like I always do and I am excited to try and win a British title of my own.

“It was always in my vision and always part of my goals to win a British title in my professional career. It would means a lot to me, as much as winning a world title. I have got to give 100 per cent.”

Smith is managed by Matchroom Boxing and company chairman Eddie Hearn has previously tipped the Sheffield boxer to go on and win world titles.

“He will win the British and then he will go on and he will 100 per cent be fighting at world level,” Hearn told The Yorkshire Post in March.

“I would like to take him down the traditional route, it is nice to have a British fighter from Sheffield that you can try and win a British, Commonwealth and European title with.”

It is high praise indeed for Smith from a man who has overseen the rise of several world champions.

“I have got one fight to focus on at a time,” insisted Smith.

“Maybe I can get a couple of defences in when I win the British title. 

“I just try and leave that to my team, I try not to look too far in the future. You can’t overlook anybody, you can’t overlook any fight.”

Undefeated after 11 fights, Smith certainly knows the value of taking it one fight at a time.

Dalton Smith of England has been tipped for world title fights by his promoter Eddie Hearn, background. (Picture: Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)
Dalton Smith celebrates with his dad and trainer after victory in the WBC International Silver Super-Lightweight title fight against Ray Moylette at First Direct Arena on March 26, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images)