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  1. ITV Report

Callum Smith focussed on Ryder clash despite unification ambitions

Callum Smith is craving a unification bout but insists that is second on his priority list below successfully defending his WBA super-middleweight title against John Ryder.

The 29-year-old will fight in his home city of Liverpool for the first time since becoming world champion as he makes the second defence of his crown at the M&S Bank Arena on November 23.

Smith has been linked with a high-profile showdown at Anfield next year, although he knows that prospect will vanish if he loses his belt to his domestic rival.

"The best version of me beats any super-middleweight on the planet," Smith (26-0, 19KOs) said at a press conference.

"There's talk of a massive 2020, but all that disappears if I slip up on November 23, so I'm fully motivated. I worked hard to become a world champion and I'm going to work even harder to keep it.

"I need to keep winning, I want to see how good I am and test myself against some of the biggest names in the division and the biggest names in boxing, and I can't do that if I lose to John Ryder.

"I want to clear up at super-middle, I want to try to unify the division, if I can do that then the next goal is to try to be undisputed."

At 6ft 3in, Smith will boast a significant height and reach advantage over Ryder, who has won his last four fights via stoppage to become the WBA's mandatory challenger.

Ryder (28-4, 16KOs) said: "This is the real dream now, a world title fight. It's a fight I believe I can win.

"(Smith) is a great champion, he beat a great champion to become champion, he did not just win a vacant title, he went and beat a champion and he is the world number one. I want to test myself against the best."