Sheffield's Dalton Smith sets sights on America with Eddie Hearn after English title win
Sheffield boxer Dalton Smith meant business when he said the English title was just a stepping stone.
So much so he’s already planning to vacate it, having only been crowned super-lightweight champion on Saturday after dispatching his latest opponent in six rounds.
The 24-year-old, who trains at the Steel City Gym in Darnall, comfortably overcame a potentially tough assignment in the form of Rotherham’s Lee Appleyard, who had boxed 100 more rounds as a professional before their scrap.
Smith, meanwhile, had never fought more than five rounds. This time he managed one more than that before the referee called time on a one-sided fight.
"I’m buzzing,” he told The Star. “It was as good as I thought it would go.
“I was expecting a much harder fight. Lee’s as tough as old boots, he would have been there until the last bell. The fight could have been stopped a little earlier but it was definitely the right decision.
"It was just business, me and Lee are good friends out the ring and we have got a lot of respect for each other and each other’s teams. It was nothing personal.
"My dad was over the moon. Eddie was happy and he’s got big plans for me in the future, I put my trust in him.”
Appleyard, 33, admitted he was second best.
“Slowly but surely he was picking my face off,” he said.
"I got beat by a better man. I believed I was going to win, I was in the best condition of my life. He was just another level.
"He's the real deal, there’s no two ways about it. He’s a very highly talented fighter.”
While ‘Thunder’ admitted he’s still learning, he won’t be hanging around at this level.
“I will be looking at vacating the belt now, the English title, and move on.
"Speaking to Eddie (Hearn) after the fight, he would like to get me to America next in the next couple of months or so.
"It’s baby steps at the minute, that was only my eighth professional fight, I still have a lot of learning to do.”
Appleyard, who has no plans to retire, added: “He can certainly step up a few more levels now. I am sure he’s above British level already. I have sparred with British-level fighters and he’s above that.
“The only questions he’s got is similar to what I wanted to get him to answer: what’s he going to be like in the later rounds when someone’s firing at him?
"His dad’s (trainer Grant) not an idiot and I’m sure he will bring him up to the level.”
Smith’s win tops off a brilliant few weeks for the Steel City Gym after Londoner Sunny Edwards, who is also trained by Smith senior, produced an upset to win the IBO World Featherweight title last month.
With a return to training scheduled for next week, celebrations after the former Team GB man’s fight were low-key. He visited grandparents Pauline and Brian, who live on the Littledale estate.
"I just pigged out, my nan had made a buffet because it was my grandad’s seventieth,” he said.
“My Grandad was buzzing, I was able to get him into the arena for fight night. It was a good birthday for him.”