Britain’s Precocious Royston Barney-Smith Hoping To Enter Good Company

Boxing Scene

Boxing fans will get their latest glimpse at the precocious talent of super featherweight Royston Barney-Smith when he makes his first appearance of the year on Friday at York Hall in London.

Barney-Smith, who recently turned 20, is aiming at becoming Britain’s youngest fully recognized world champion – which would put him in some truly elite company.

The bantamweight world-title picture was in a state of flux when a 19-year-old Terry Baldock won a version of it back in 1927. More recently, “Prince” Naseem Hamed was just 21 when he put on a clinic to stop Steve Robinson and win a featherweight belt in 1995. Later, in 2009, Amir Khan became a world champion at 22 when he outpointed Andreas Kotelnik for a super lightweight title.

Barney-Smith (8-0, 4 KOs) is poised to venture beyond six rounds for the first time when he meets Jose Manuel Perez in a scheduled eight-rounder Friday. He will have to take some calculated gambles and make some rapid steps if he is to beat Hamed’s record, but in any case, Barney-Smith is developing quickly.

“That’s still well on the cards,” Barney-Smith told Queensberry. “I’m hitting all the things I need to be doing and it can’t come fast enough, to be honest with you. I’m doing eight and ten rounds of sparring comfortably, with good sparring partners and good people, and it shows in my performances, as you can see.”

“Bigger fights, longer rounds and a couple of titles hopefully,” Barney-Smith said when discussing his aims for what he hopes is a busy 2024. “That’s what we’re pushing towards. I’m 20 now, I’m gonna fight for a youth world title after March 22. Not looking too far ahead – I have to make sure I prepare for March 22, get the job done, and after that is when the rewards start coming.”

Barney-Smith mixes with top level fighters day in and day out at the Ben Davison Performance Centre, and he will be absorbing every morsel of information that he can from the likes of Shabaz Masoud, Luke McCormack, Aloys Junior and two-time featherweight world champion Leigh Wood. And the arrival of two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in the gym has given him a priceless first-hand look at what it takes to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

“How to carry yourself,” Barney-Smith said. “How to train properly. How to stay focused. Staying one-minded in that you see a goal and you proceed to get there and never lose sight of what you’re doing.

“I watch the way he is in the gym and the way he spars,” Barney-Smith said of Joshua. “He doesn’t go in there and just do what he wants. He works on things over and over again, and just watching that helps me to know that those are the things you have to do to become one of the best.”

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