Dalton Smith Calls Out Adam Azim After Crushing Win Over Jose Zepeda

March 24, 2024
2 months
Dalton Smith

Super-lightweight prospect Dalton Smith has called out European champion Adam Azim after his impressive stoppage win over Jose Zepeda on Saturday night.

Smith (16-0-0 12 KO) extended his unbeaten professional record in his hometown of Sheffield, England with a fifth-round knockout of Zepeda, a three-time world title challenger.

Nicknamed ‘Thunder’, it was a thunderous body shot that ended the fight as Smith landed a flush straight right to Zepeda’s stomach, leaving the American creased over on the canvas and unable to rise to his feet before the end of the referee’s count.

Smith wanted to make a statement in front of his home fans in a fight that represented a significant step up in level, and he did just that. He then wasted little time setting his sights on domestic rival Azim.

“I don’t call many names out but Adim Azim, where are you at? I bet he vacates that title,” Smith, 27, said. “I respect him but the European title is something I want.”

Smith ‘Showed I Belong’

A new layer was added to this rivalry when Azim pipped Smith to fight for the European title. Both fighters’ promoters had lodged requests, but Azim’s Boxxer beat Smith’s Matchroom to it.

So while Azim fought for, and duly won, the European strap, Smith was forced to look at alternatives, which led him to Zepeda – a move that looks fully justified after Saturday night.

“A lot of people thought this fight was too soon for me, that made me train harder and I showed where I belong tonight,” said Smith, who holds the British and Commonwealth titles at 140lbs. “I was hitting him with some clean shots, he walked on to an uppercut, and then I knew I could hurt him.”

Whether Smith fights Azim next will likely depend on Azim. The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) and the European Boxing Union have both ordered the fight and purse bids are imminent.

Azim’s promoter, Ben Shalom, earlier this week said a fight with Smith is “inevitable”, but refused to commit to whether it would be next for his fighter, saying instead that he has “several major fights on the table” from contenders on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, Smith’s promoter, Eddie Hearn was far more upfront with his hopes of matching his fighter against the unbeaten European champion.

‘Adam Azim, I Dare You’

“I haven’t got too much to say to Adam Azim other than I dare you,” Hearn said. “I dare you to fight Dalton Smith. The British Boxing Board of Control have ordered it, the European title have ordered it, your belt, there is no reason that you won’t fight this man other than he’s too good.

“But what we want to do is chase the world championship, but we will drop back down the levels to fight Adam Azim if we have to give Sheffield a big fight.

“With all due respect, Adam Azim, tremendous fighter. Right now, [he] couldn’t lace this man’s boots. We’re going for the world championship. Get out the way, we’re coming through.”

In beating Zepeda (37-5-0 28 KO), Smith claimed the WBC’s silver title, which Hearn hopes has put him a bit closer to challenging for a world title.

“That was a world-class performance,” Hearn said. “I was nervous tonight, because that guy is a hell of a fighter, he can punch, and no one has ever made him stay on the canvas and not beat the count other than Dalton Smith in his entire career. That was a major statement at world level.

“He told me, I want to work my way towards the WBC world championship and tonight we’ve done that,” said Hearn. “I believe we’re going to go in to the top five, look at the 140-pounders that we’ve got and we work with; Devin Haney, Subriel Matias, Richardson Hitchins, Regis Prograis, Jack Catterall, Liam Paro, the list is endless, but this young man is now 16-0 and well on his way to a world championship shot.”