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Dalton Smith spent years looking up to Kell Brook but claims he's ready to bypass his 'role model' and insists beating Jose Zepeda will land him in the 'biggest battles on the biggest stages'

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Dalton Smith’s journey in boxing has drawn inspiration from the illustrious career of Kell Brook, a fellow Sheffield native and a boxing legend in his own right. 

Growing up in the same city as Brook, Smith was captivated by his achievements and looked up to the former IBF world welterweight champion as a role model, aspiring to follow in his footsteps and make a name for himself in the sport. 

Speaking exclusively to Mail Sport, Dalton said: ‘Over the years I saw the big names come through from Sheffield. Kell Brook was more my generation. It was Bramall Lane for him, seeing him sell that out was inspiring. 

‘That’s where I want to get to, that’s what I want to achieve. So, of course, Kell has been that role model for me to look up to and achieve what he’s done. Sheffield is my hometown, it means a lot to me and there have been some great fighters to come from here. I want to be one of those big names that comes through there.’ 

Inspired by Brook’s career, Smith says he’s driven by a dual ambition— to engage in thrilling battles on the grandest stages and to etch his name alongside the sport’s most revered champions.

Dalton Smith's journey in boxing is intricately woven with inspiration drawn from Kell Brook

Dalton Smith’s journey in boxing is intricately woven with inspiration drawn from Kell Brook

Growing up in the same city as Brook, Smith was captivated by his achievements and looked up to the former IBF world welterweight champion as a role model

Inspired by Brook's career, Smith is driven by a dual ambition, to engage in thrilling battles and to etch his name alongside the sport's most revered champions

Growing up in the same city as Brook, Smith was captivated by his achievements and looked up to the former IBF world welterweight champion as a role model

Like Brook, Smith understands the importance of competing in big fights that capture the imagination of fans worldwide, but claims he’s also focused on honoring the traditions of the sport and paying homage to those who came before him. 

Whether it’s the WBC, WBA, IBF, or WBO title, he believes each belt represents a pinnacle of achievement, a symbol of excellence that serves as a testament to years of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. 

Dalton said: ‘For me, being young, I have seen the greats like Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton come through and do the traditional route. The English, British, European, Commonwealth and then world title. 

‘I’ve always said I want to look back on my career and look at my trophy cabinet and have all those belts that have been around for many years. I don’t want all these Mickey Mouse belts that are new into boxing. I want to look back through the history of boxing and think right I won one of those. The two I need to get now are a European and a world.

‘That being said, of course the belts are nice. But, they do only collect dust. People always remember you from the fights you were in. So, I want to be in the big fights people remember. As you said, the grudge matches, the fights people want to see.

‘Whenever there are big fights throughout my career, that people want to see, they are the ones I want to be chasing. It’s great to get all the belts and as I said, I want to get all the real belts in boxing, but of course, it’s about what you finish boxing with. 

‘What’s in the bank account, what financially sets you up for after your career. What does that is the biggest fights. The biggest names. So, that’s what I will always chase.’ 

Dalton believes he is ready to take the next step on his journey and says his fight against Jose Zepeda on March 23 represents a significant moment in his career that will propel him forwards.  

For Smith, this fight presents an opportunity to prove himself against top-tier competition and solidify his status as a rising star in the world of boxing. 

With an undefeated record and an impressive resume of victories under his belt, Smith enters the ring with confidence and determination, ready to showcase his skills against a formidable opponent. 

‘I definitely have to go in there and put on a performance to prove to people I belong at the top level. I was the one who picked this fight. I believe it’s a fight that I can go in there and put on a great performance. 

‘I believe it will move me up the rankings and move me onto world title eliminators and bigger fights. But, like you said, it’s one fight at a time. I have to put on a good performance here. I have to prove to people I belong with the big names in the 140 division.’

He went on to add: ‘It’s definitely a step-up for me in my career. I think he’s a great opponent. I’ve always said, every time I step-up, my game also steps up. That’s the way it goes. You have to bring something new to the table to move through the ranks.

‘Stepping up also gives you that extra fire in your belly. It gives you that little bit more to push in training. It brings the best out of you. So, yeah it definitely gives you that hunger to push on.’ 

On the other side of the ring stands Zepeda, a seasoned veteran with years of experience in the sport. Known for his technical prowess and relentless pressure, Zepeda poses a formidable challenge for Smith. But, will he overlook the 27-year-old? 

‘I hope he is overlooking me, Smith laughed. ‘But, he’s obviously going to watch my fights and he’s going to know I am good. He’s been in much higher profile fights than this but when the bell goes he will find out he’s in the ring with one of the best fighters he’s faced. We’ll see but I hope he does underestimate me.’ 

In the lead-up to the fight, both Smith and Zepeda have been hard at work in the gym, fine-tuning their game plans for the Sheffield showdown. 

But, Dalton could have the upper hand going into the fight after spending time training alongside one of Zepeda’s coaches, Manny Robles, during his trip to American late last year. 

When asked about the time he spent with Robels, Smith said: ‘When this this fight got made with Jose Zepeda, I didn’t realise he was trained by Manny Robles. So, it was pretty funny to be fair. 

‘I spent some time with Manny and Manny is a really good guy. It was a coincidence but when the fight was made we realised Manny was part of his camp so there was nothing set up there but it’s just the way it turned out. 

‘It will be nice to see Manny on fight week, but on different sides of the teams this time. I’ll definitely go over and say hi to Manny before fight night. He’s a good guy and looked after me in America. 

‘We actually went to Guadlahara as well for the Canelo fight so we’re spent a good amount of time together. He’s a really good guy and they’ve got a really good team there. But, fight week is obviously business.’ 

Smith and Zepeda will be going toe-to-toe in Smith’s backyard, headlining the March 23 card in Sheffield. 

Fighting in Sheffield holds a deeply personal significance for Smith, as it’s where his journey in boxing began, where he first laced up his gloves and stepped into the ring under the watchful eye of his father and coach, Grant Smith. 

When asked about being the new golden boy of Sheffield, Smith said: ‘It comes with pressure but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is where I want to get to. I tend to not put too much pressure on myself. 

‘At the end of the day, I want to achieve great things and I am cherishing all of these great moments. I am headlining my home town. People are coming out in big numbers, it’s amazing. 

‘At the end of the day, it’s the entertainment business. People are paying to come out and watch me fight. They are showing great support so it’s my job to go in there and put on a great fight, a great performance and show the fans what I am capable of. I want show them why they should come back for more.’