Liverpool boxer Callum Smith was due to fight German veteran Juergen Braehmer on Saturday night in the second semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS).
However Braehmer, the former WBO and WBA light heavyweight champion, has fallen ill due to a bout of flu and Smith will now fight Dutchman Nieky Holzken.
WBSS organizers have employed standbys for semi-final bouts in an effort to make sure the tournament continues with withdrawals having a minimum impact. Holzken was the standby for this bout and will now face Smith this Saturday in Nuremberg for a place in the final. Holzken had been preparing to face tough Russian Dmitrii Chudinov on the undercard.
Holzken is better known as a kickboxer. The 34-year-old has won a host of European and world titles during his kickboxing career, including the Glory welterweight title. It is thought Holzkenhas over 100 pro fights winning more than 90.
Holzken tried his hand at boxing in 2013 and has gone on to record a professional record of 13-0 with 10 Ko’s. It remains to be seen if he is ready for a step up in competition he will likely see when he faces Smith.
“I’ve been waiting for this chance to come. I signed up as a substitute fighter so I’m in great shape and prepared for Saturday,” said Holzken to the WBSS website. “I’ve watched Callum Smith fight many times. I study everyone in my weight division. He’s a good, solid fighter. We’re both big body punchers. It will make for an excellent fight.”
Liverpool’s Smith, who is 23-0 with 17 stoppages, faced Erik Skoglund in the quarter-final in September winning by unanimous decision and will be looking to make it an all English final by facing George Groves, who booked his place in the final by defeating Chris Eubank Jr on Saturday.
“I gave an interview last week and said it’s great there have been no drop-outs,” said Smith to the WBSS website “Looks like I spoke too soon.”
“We got the call as we were boarding the plane. I am committed to fighting on Saturday and will fight whoever the World Boxing Super Series puts in front of me.”