Earlier than expected but the time is right for Dalton Smith as he turns pro with Matchroom
It came much earlier than even he expected but Dalton Smith admit he could see plenty of signs that is was time to leave behind the most successful amateur boxing career in Sheffield history and chase glory in the professional ranks.
The Woodhouse fighter has confirmed his professional status and signed with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing stable, giving up on his dream of representing Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics.
But he says a change to the format of international boxing was just one of the indicators that it was time to ‘turn over’ to the pro game he always knew he would eventual be a part of.
“Just before Christmas, AIBA [the international amateur boxing governing body] changed the weights, taking out two male weights to put two more female weights in,” he said.
“I just wouldn't be able to make the new weight, having to make weight every other day.
“I had a couple of hand injuries over the last two years and it was taking its toll on my hands with the little gloves and the 4m bandage.
“I had a sit down with my dad over Christmas and we felt now was the right time to turn over.
“I always knew I was going to turn over but didn't expect it to be so soon.
“It came earlier than expected but I do think I’ll adapt well to the pro game.
“I sit down on my shots and I think I’ll suit the style.
“I’m just looking forward to the next chapter in life.”
Over five years as part of GB Boxing – based at the English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe – Smith’s ultimate goal was the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Giving up that dream was not an easy decision for the 22-year-old to take but he is grateful for the grounding his time as part of the GB squad provided.
“There was huge disappointment because representing my country at the Olympic games has been a goal for me since I was a little kid,” he said.
“That kind of got taken away from me so I’ve got to put it behind me and just focus on what is ahead.
“I’ve got a lot to thank Team GB for. They trained me from a boy and turned me into a man.
“I’ve travelled the world and fought the best fighters out there.
“The experience that I picked up on the team over the five years was priceless and I’ve a lot to thank them for.”
The announcement of Smith’s move into the professional ranks came as part of the final pre-fight press conference for gym mate Charlie Edwards, who defends his WBC flyweight title against Angel Moreno on Saturday night in London.
With the success of Edwards and his brother Sunny, Smith says the Steel City gym is on a high and he feels it is the ideal place for this major step in his career, under the guidance of dad Grant.
“I’m back full time training with my dad since I left GB,” he said.
“He’s excited just as much as me. It’s a journey for us both and we’re looking forward to it.
“The gym is buzzing in the minute with my dad and with Charlie recently becoming a world champion.
“Just being in the presence with Charlie and Sunny doing so well also, and all the other lads in the gym, I’m learning all the time.
“I’ve known Charlie over the last couple of years and seen him progress from when he didn’t win that world title, through sticking it out until he achieved his childhood dream.
“Just seeing how Charlie works in the gym I know what it takes to one day achieve that myself.”
Smith hopes to make his debut in the light welterweight ranks in May and build experience for the rest of 2019.
But with youth on his side, he insists he will be taking his time acclimatising to the professional side of the sport.
”For the rest of the year I just want to break in and get a good few fights under my belt,” Smith said.
“Then maybe next year look at fighting for titles.
“But I don’t want to rush things.
“I’ve got time on my side and I just want to make sure I’m progressing.
“I’m looking forward to the new chapter.”