Dalton Smith compared with former boxing heroes like Marquez and Gatti

Dalton Smith is on the cusp of world title status.
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His stunning stoppage of Mexican Jose Zepeda reinforced that.

Comparisons with previous champions are there for the making, tinged with the reality that there is still a lot of work for the Handsworth man to do to scale the heights of boxing.

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Sheffield's former world champion Clinton Woods knows what is required to scale those peaks.

And he earnestly hopes Smith will follow the route that he and other Sheffielders like Kell Brook, Junior Witter, Johnny Nelson and Naseem Hamed have travelled.

Woods is a fan of Smith; he bought a ticket for the Sheffield Arena bout which ended with a fifth round, vicious body punch.

"Dalton is such a clever fighter, I really enjoy watching him" said the ex IBF kingpin.

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"He was cagey at first against that southpaw (Zepeda) and started throwing shots he knew would cause him problems. He has got power.

"For me, he is class, a thinking-fighter, especially in the way he draws his opponents on to shots.

"His trainer (Grant Smith) is obviously just as smart."

Woods compared Smith's styles with Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez, who became a world champion in four weight classes.

"Obviously I'm not saying he is there right now but it looks like Dalton is getting towards world title level, as the kid he was against has been in with fighters of that calibre."

Dalton Smith Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom BoxingDalton Smith Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing
Dalton Smith Picture By Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing
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Sheffield Boxing Centre trainer Glyn Rhodes agreed the 27-year-old super lightweight could make the grade."He is a fan of Arturo Gatti (they both carry the nickname 'Thunder') and I can see, like Gatti, Dalton doesn't mind having a tear-up.

"Everybody has big hopes for him but we shouldn't get carried away.

"He is still learning his trade.

"Last Saturday was a big learning experience for Dalton and he could be on the verge of something good if he is matched carefully."

Dalton Smith and Glyn RhodesDalton Smith and Glyn Rhodes
Dalton Smith and Glyn Rhodes

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn sees parallels with the way Brook brought a world title back to Sheffield.

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"When he produces performances like that, it makes it very easy to do my job" he said.

"There is so much similarity between Dalton's career-building process and Kell Brook's career-building process," said Hearn.

"Kell made the lunge to fight Shawn Porter for the world title (2014) and we are not a million miles away from doing that.

"After that performance, the next one is going to be even bigger.

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"That is when we can start opening up the top tier of this Arena, going from 5,000 to 7,000 and then to 9,000 people and that is when you can start thinking about going to Hillsborough Stadium."

Clinton Woods at his Westfield gymClinton Woods at his Westfield gym
Clinton Woods at his Westfield gym

One potential opponent for Smith, going forward is American Regis Prograis, another southpaw, who lost the WBC title in December.

"If you look at the 140lbs division, there are some big names and there are going to be some special nights," said Smith. “I have been a fan of Regis Prograis for a very long time.

"It would be great to fight him, but there are plenty of options and some big fights to be made.

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"My main goal is to work towards a fight at Hillsborough Stadium. I don't mind whoever it is against; if it is for a world title, we will fight them there."

BOXREC'S TOP SIX RANKING AT 140lbs1: Josh Taylor, Scotland. 2 Dalton Smith, Sheffield.3: Jack Catterall Chorley, Lancashire.4 Adam Azim, Slough, Berkshire. 5: Ohara Davies, Hackney, London. 6: Harlem Eubank Brighton, Sussex.

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