FORMER Pinewood Starr amateur Sam Smith is gearing up to headline a big night of boxing in just his fourth professional fight later this month.
Smith, who goes under the nickname ‘Sniper’, is set to face Lithuanian veteran Kiril Psonko at the Talk Is Cheap event ran but Neilson Boxing at the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon on November 26.
And Sniper, 23, who still has family in the Wokingham area and is sponsored by Wokingham business A1 Group, is confident of continuing his rise up the rankings with a fourth straight professional victory.
“I really can’t wait,” Smith told The Wokingham Paper.
“I’m really looking forward to this one.
“It’s my first time as a pro headlining a big show like this in my adopted home town of Swindon.
“It’s a huge achievement, especially after only three fights and it’s a big statement in some sense to my division as well.”
And Sniper acknowledges it is those experiences which gave him any chance of making his way as a professional.
“I boxed as an amateur for 10 or 11 years,” he explained.
“I had 40 plus fights, boxed for England twice, went to the European Games, won three national titles as a junior.
“I achieved a lot as an amateur, not so much as a senior but more as a junior.”
Now training in Swindon, Smith is coached by the well renowned Paddy Fitzpatrick.
The Irishman has been in boxing for decades and is a popular face across the circuit, perhaps most notably as the trainer for George Groves for his Wembley Stadium super-fight with Carl Froch in front of 80,000 people.
And Sniper says his progression has been rapid since teaming up with Fitzpatrick.
“That was a massive step,” said Smith.
“My old coach Tim De Meyer introduced me to Paddy nearly two years ago now.
“It sort of went from there, sparring with the likes of George Groves, Nathan Cleverly and Enzo Maccarinelli, all these big names.
“My first week in Swindon I was sparring professionals and I learned a lot from that.”
While Smith has lofty ambitions, he is well aware that the result of the Psonko bout will play a key role in where he goes next beyond November.
Despite this being Smith’s first ever 10-round fight, the orthodox light-heavyweight will go in as big favourite against the Lithuanian, who comes in with a record of 16-40-2, but did shock home favourite Kelvin Young during his last outing to Swindon.
“He’s a dangerous opponent,” said Sniper.
“Last time he was out in Swindon he knocked out Kelvin Young but every fight we expect to win.
“We train to win but we’ve got to be on our game because if we don’t then it only takes one punch in this game for it to be all over.
“Going up to 10 rounds is a big jump.
“I’ve been training for 10 to 12 rounds ever since I’ve turned professional really, even when I’m doing four round fights.
“It’s a box I’ve not ticked yet, doing 10 rounds in an actual fight.
“Sparring and actual boxing is two different things but I’m really looking forward to it as I normally warm up as a fight carries on.”
He added: “We take it one fight at a time.
“We have got a plan set.
“We would like to break the top 20 and then into the top 15 by next year.
“Really this time next year we want to be either challenging for a British title or even a British title eliminator or even be champion, boxing for the title, that is our plan.”
Tickets are still available for the Talk Is Cheap event in Swindon next weekend from £35 at neilsonboxing.co.uk or from any of the boxers themselves.