By Greg Noble: Following Eddie Hearn’s recent comments about Callum Smith moving up to the light-heavyweight division after his torrid night against Canelo, it begs the question, is this Britain’s strongest division now?
Callum Smith 27-1-0
The former ring magazine number one in the Super-Middleweight division and former WBA champion is now targeting a move up a division. Many people in boxing have always vocalised how they feel Smith’s natural weight would be the 175 pounds division. A former champion with notable victories against a fading George Groves, and a controversial win against his fellow countrymen John Ryder.
Smith produced a punch-perfect display against Hassan N’Dam in New York on the undercard of the historic first fight between Joshua and Andy Ruiz. Callum Smith has claimed 19 KO’s in his 27 victories with his only loss coming against the P4P king, Canelo. Smith defiantly has the size and power to contend at the highest level of the division.
Mouth-watering ties against the likes of Beterbiev and Bivol would be extremely desirable for boxing fans. Let us hope that he is put in against a live opponent in his first fight at the weight and then we can determine if he has a big future at the weight.
Joshua Buatsi 13-0-0
Buatsi still moving slowly up the division and has an impressive amateur pedigree with his career highlight so far being that of winning the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The British fighter is managed by Anthony Joshua and is promoted by Eddie Hearn. With only 13 fights under his belt, Buatsi has had a stuttering career and has not engaged in a career-defining fight as of yet.
Touted by many to go all the way in his career. His toughest fight to date was his previous fight against relatively unknown Marko Calic in which he came through with a TKO win after suffering a painful eye injury.
It may not have been the most eye-catching of displays but is illustrated that Buatsi has resolve which is a crucial attribute to possess. With talks of a huge domestic fight against rival Callum Johnson for the summer of this year, it could be his coming-of-age fight.
This now looks unlikely following Johnsons move to Frank Warren was announced. Since his pro debut, talks of a fight between Buatsi and Anthony Yarde has been a fight highly desired by British supporters. Even with Yarde’s two defeats, it is still a matchup that would be highly entertaining. 2021 should be the year we see Joshua Buatsi challenge the best.
Lyndon Arthur 18-0-0
The 29-year-old fighter from Manchester had an impressive year in 2020. First Arthur won a unanimous decision against Dec Spellman who can be a difficult test at domestic level, but Arthur came through that comfortably.
Next was a huge win against the highly-rated KO artist Anthony Yarde by Split Decision. Arthur controlled the fight and managed to survive a late onslaught from Yarde which proved Lyndon Arthur has a respectable chin.
Yarde was the heavy favourite coming into the fight, but Arthur proved his doubters wrong. It was revealed after the fight that Lyndon had been nursing an injury to his arm for weeks but also injured his hand in his pre-fight warm-up.
To beat one of the UK’s best talents with just one hand emphasises his boxing pedigree. With talks of a rematch for 2021 being talked about, it will be interesting to see if the fight goes ahead again because of how little action was in the first. Currently, he is ranked 3rd with the WBO, could we see Lyndon Arthur battling for that belt in the near future with it being vacant? Lyndon Arthur illustrated his boxing ability in 2021 and so could have some big career-defining fights ahead of him soon.
Anthony Yarde 20-2-0
Nicknamed the beast, Anthony Yarde is renowned for his punching power, having obtained 19 KO’s in his 20 victories. After going on an impressive KO streak, he was awarded a shot at the WBO world title against the seasoned pro in Sergey Kovalev.
Yarde was outboxed throughout the majority of the fight but was seconds away from receiving a KO win in the 8th round emphasising his world-level power. However, after Kovalev came through a bombardment of punches in the 8th round his experience helped him in taking control of the fightback and stopping Yarde in the 11th round.
After having a tune-up fight in Spain and beating Dec Spellman by a 6th round stoppage, Yarde went on to lose in a shock defeat to Lyndon Arthur. This has brought into question, the credentials of his vocal trainer Tunde Ajayi.
A decision is yet to be made as to whether the two will part ways. With Yarde’s promoter Frank Warren hinting that a change is needed for Yarde to progress further in his career. With two losses to quality opposition, Yarde certainly has a future in the division still with many British fights possible which could propel him back into world title proceedings. However, something has to be altered for this to come to fruition.
Callum Johnson 18-1-0
Trained by the same trainer as Callum Smith in Joe Gallagher, Johnson has not been present in the ring since March 2019. With only one defeat to one of the most feared men in boxing in Artur Beterbiev. A compelling fight in which Johnson put down Beterbiev in the fight until he was knocked out in the 4th round. This demonstrated that Johnson could mix it with the best in the weight division but since has struggled with inactivity.
A huge fight could be brewing for him though against the highly regarded Joshua Buatsi in the summer. A fight that could reignite his career. Before then, a tune-up fight is surely essential before he can enter the ring with the dangerous Buatsi. However, his announcement with Queensberry could result in some bug fights with Yarde or Arthur.
Both could propel him back to the top. If he is motivated to fight for a world title once again, then a fight against one of his fellow countrymen could just do that. Johnson, who is the oldest on this list at 35, needs to get active again for the sake of his career.
With the UK holding an abundance of talent in the heavyweight division with the likes of AJ, Fury, Whyte, Joyce, Dubois, and many other young fighters coming through, it is hard not to pick that as the leading division. However, with the addition of Callum Smith, the strength in depth in the Light-Heavyweight division will provide many entertaining nights for fight fans.
If none of the Brits can secure a world title fight or eliminator, then the domestic fights should be screamed for by the fans. With potential ties such as Buatsi v Callum Smith or Lyndon Arthur v Callum Johnson, there is plenty of fun to be had.