Sport: 'Something in the water': Dalton Smith on sparring Jack Catterall, British title bid and Sheffield's boxing legacy

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Dalton Smith will continue a proud hometown tradition when he headlines the Sheffield Arena on Saturday, with a lot about his rapid emergence as a bill-topper feeling like it makes total sense.

It's not just because Smith (11-0, 9 KOs), who takes on Sam O'maison for the vacant British super-lightweight title, grew up cheering on fellow sons of Sheffield Kell Brook and Clinton Woods at a venue that has staged some of British boxing's most memorable nights.

If you've ever watched the 25-year-old former amateur standout go to work, such as in his impressive inside-the-distance wins over Lee Appleyard, Ray Moylette and Mauro Perouene within the past 18 months, you'll see familiar moves: smooth footwork, quality long punches picked with expert precision and an ability to get loose and languid.

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Smith looks every inch a Sheffield fighter.

WATCH: Dalton Smith vs. Sam O'maison, 6th August exclusively live on DAZN

"I don't know what it is, maybe it's something in the water," he smiled during a chat with The Sporting News as the biggest night of his fledgling career closed in.

"You get your Manchester fighters that are great body-punchers. You see the Sheffield fighters who have come through, they have that elusive style. I like to think I can box, I can drop my hands a little bit but also I can keep that high guard and fight inside as well."

Does Dalton Smith train at the Ingle Gym?

The key difference, or maybe the argument for something being in those streams that trickle down from the Peak District, is that Smith is not a graduate of Sheffield boxing's most famous school.

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From Herol Graham through to Johnny Nelson and Naseem Hamed and up to Brook most recently, fighters trained first by the late Brendan Ingle and now his son Dominic thrived thanks to all the idiosyncrasies and collective intelligence of the Wincobank Gym.

For Smith, it's similarly a family affair as his style and career have been moulded under the watchful eye of his dad, Grant. Joe Calzaghe enjoyed his breakout win at the Sheffield Arena against a veteran Chris Eubank in 1997, having eschewed convention by having his inimitable father Enzo in his corner. As Smith junior and senior prepare for their own big night there, boxing's capacity for bringing echoes from the past around time and again remains undefeated.

"I've not done the traditional Ingle style or anything like that. It's just been through what I've learnt from my dad over the years and the style I've adapted to," said Smith, who seems excited by the prospect of following those famous names of yesteryear.

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"At the end of the day, it's for me personally and it's my own journey. To follow in the footsteps of those Sheffield greats… I'm flying the flag now, I'm carrying that, I'm the next generation coming through. It's up to me now to carry those big nights on."

Have Dalton Smith and Sam O'maison fought before?

Even so, when Grant Smith and the other respective seconds climb back through the ropes before the first bell, Dalton Smith won't be the only Sheffield man in the ring.

O'maison (17-3-1, 7 KOs) also hails from the Steel City. The 31-year-old southpaw and Smith know each other well, having sparred previously.

"It was about five years ago when I was on the Great Britain team. I was young back then," Smith recalled. "I had nothing to worry about from those spars. I'm not sure what his memories are from the spars.

"Sam's a good fighter. He's been around the block, he's done his time as a professional and has been in the game a lot longer than me. He knows his way around the ring. He's got a good boxing brain.

"Over those years, I've changed a lot. I was a baby when I sparred Sam. However the spars went, I've got even better than that. It's going to be a great fight."

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Far more relevant gym sessions came recently for Smith, who has shared plenty of rounds with Jack Catterall.

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Catterall remains in the hunt for a November rematch with undisputed super-lightweight champion Josh Taylor, after dropping a dramatic and controversial split-decision loss to the 'Tartan Tornado' in Glasgow this year.

"For me, I thought Catterall won the fight, as a lot of people did. Hopefully, they can get that rematch on and settle it yet again," Smith said. "Even this camp, I've done quite a bit of sparring with Catterall. He's a great fighter. I'm a big fan of them both and, as a fan, I'd like to see that fight again.

"I think Jack has probably spoken about that fight so many times it bores him now. We had a little brief chat about it and he was just saying hopefully he can get the rematch on."

Whether or not that fight is made, undisputed status and the mandatory requirements that dog those boxers who reach such a rare pinnacle mean vacant belts are likely to be popping up at 140lbs soon enough.

If he manages to negotiate his O'maison assignment, Smith can also look towards a stacked domestic division where the likes of Lewis Ritson, Ohara Davies, Robbie Davies Jr and Harlem Eubank would all make for intriguing match-ups.

"As far as world titles go, if it was up to me, I'd fight next week for one. But that's not how the game works," he added.

WATCH: Dalton Smith vs. Sam O'maison, 6th August exclusively live on DAZN

"I've got to learn my trade, get that professional experience, which I am doing. I'm enjoying the process. I'm enjoying the journey."

The next stop on that journey is a very familiar destination. If things remain on track, Smith has ambitions to top the bill at Hillsborough, probably still soundtracked to the ring by Arctic Monkeys blaring out. Some might think it's a bit too soon to declare him the new flagbearer for Sheffield fighters, but he certainly ticks a lot of boxes.

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