British champion Dalton Smith intends to join Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall at the top of the super-lightweight division.
His ambitions though all depend on defending his title against Kaisee Benjamin at the Manchester Arena on November 12, live on Sky Sports.
“I’m probably in one of the hardest divisions and there’s plenty of fights out there for me. I’m always going to be in good fights. I’m never going to be short of dance partners. The future looks bright. There’s some big fights out there,” Smith said.
He expects Benjamin to be aggressive and seek to pressurise him in next month’s title clash.
“That will play to my hands. The pressure fighters I’ve fought who come forward – that’s when you see me at my best,” Smith told Sky Sports.
“He’s a good fighter, he’s experienced as a professional now. But he’s nothing I haven’t seen before. Obviously I respect him, I’ve got to be 100 per cent going in there but I feel like anything that Kaisee tries to do I’m going to have an answer for it.
“We’ll see. The main thing is what happens that first round and how they come out. I’m always prepared for anything. I can adapt. I’m not really sure Kaisee can adapt as much. So we’ll see.
“I’m adaptable, I can go on the front foot, I can fight inside, I box very well on the backfoot so any fighter that approaches with a different style, I can deal with. I’m always confident. Any style I’m in there with, I can adapt.”
If he can get past Benjamin and keep on his current trajectory, Smith is on course, eventually, to take on the very best fighters in the exciting 140lb weight class.
Josh Taylor, who became the undisputed super-lightweight champion in 2021 and retains the WBO belt, picked out Smith as a rising star in the division.
“He’s a very talented fighter. I’ve seen him on the GB squad as well a number of years back and I’ve been watching him as well. He’s a very good fighter, he’s got all the moves. He definitely moves really well, so I’m quite excited to see how he progresses,” Taylor told Sky Sports.
“He’s doing all the right things, his career has gone perfectly so far and he’s getting moved along nicely and at the right pace. I’m excited to see how he goes and how he develops and how he goes through the levels.
“He’s definitely got the talent and the moves. It’s hard to tell at this early stage of his career but I believe he can and he’s got the ability to become a world champion, 100 per cent.”
The admiration is mutual. “Even though he’s the same weight, they were idols to me coming through. I always said Josh pound-for-pound was one of the best fighters in the world. I’m a fan of both Catterall and Josh. They’re the top of the game, they’re where I want to get to, they’re the fighters I’m looking up to,” Smith said.
“They say keep working hard till your idols become your rivals. That’s what it is. Josh, pound-for-pound one of the best fighters in the world and to get comments like that, it shows they’re keeping an eye on me and I’m impressing.”
Smith is hoping to see Taylor and Catterall rematch, to settle the feud that began with the champion’s contentious split decision win in February.
But despite his respect for both, those are the fighters ultimately in his sights. Having sparred Catterall too, Smith is confident he can mix in that class.
“I’m working my way up to those levels but sparring’s always different. No one spars as well as they fight on fight night,” he said. “You can’t take too much from sparring because fights are completely different.
“It’s interesting but I’m very confident from the sparring I’ve had I’m definitely up at that level.”
His ambitions extend not only to eventually winning a world title but to inheriting the mantle Taylor held as a unified champion.
“It’s every boxer’s dream. You want to win world titles. To become undisputed, not many fighters do it. Only a handful of fighters actually do it. To be able to do that, that puts you in the history books,” he said.
“You’re in the history books forever as one of the greatest fighters of all time.”