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Callum Smith on Artur Beterbiev’s radar in 2023

Image: Callum Smith on Artur Beterbiev's radar in 2023

By Jack Tiernan: Callum Smith needs to win his next fight against Pawel Stepien on March 11th for him to get his WBC-mandated title shot against IBF, WBC & WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.

Promoter Bob Arum says he doesn’t want to talk about Beterbiev fighting Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) next because the former WBA super middleweight champion still must defeat Stepien (18-0-1, 12 KOs) next month on March 11th at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.

If Callum wins that fight, Arum says he’ll be ready to start discussions for a title shot against Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs).

Smith earned his WBC mandatory spot the easy way by defeating Mathieu Bauderlique and Lenin Castillo in his only two fights at 175 since moving up in weight in 2021. The World Boxing Council basically lobbed a pitch to Callum Smith by allowing him to fight Bauderlique for the WBC 175-lb title eliminator rather than one of the talented contenders that could potentially beat him, like Joshua Buatsi, Joe Smith Jr, Craig Richards, and Dan Azeez.

I’m not going to talk to anybody about the Callum Smith – Artur Beterbiev fight because Callum Smith has a fight in March, as I understand,” said Bob Arum to iD Boxing. “So why go through the whole machinations of a fighter [Callum] fighting Beterbiev for the title when we don’t know how the Callum Smith fight in March turns out?”

With Callum Smith, you just don’t know how he’ll do against Stepien because he’s looked terrible in past fights against Canelo Alvarez, John Ryder, and Nieky Holzken.

Callum’s career likely would have never gotten to this point if he’d fought a healthy George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series tournament in 2018. Groves was coming off a shoulder injury, which eventually ended his career.

“Now, he may win, he may lose, he may get hurt, he may get cut, but if he comes through, he’s certainly the mandatory, that would be the first course of action, particularly if we can’t make a fight against [Dmitry] Bivol, who may be sitting around waiting for a Canelo fight,  which pays him a lot more,” said Arum.

“So we’ll have to see,  but definitely, Callum Smith is on our radar, and we’ll be closely monitoring his fight in March because he’s a good fighter, and he would be competitive with Beterbiev,  who in my opinion, is the best light heavyweight in the world.

“It depends,” said Arum when asked where he would stage the Beterbiev vs. Callum fight. “It could be Canada. Beterbiev is, in effect, Canadian because he’s lived in Montreal for 12 years, and he’s enormously popular, particularly in French Canada. So that is a possibility.

“The UK is a possibility. Beterbiev had no problems with going to London to fight Anthony Yarde, and I think it was a big, big success. People watched him [against Yarde]. He’s such a gentleman, even though he looks like a guy that you don’t want to tangle with, he’s a soft-spoken, very intelligent guy, and I think he was so appealing to the English fans.

“So again, let’s see what happens with the Callum Smith fight in March. Hopefully, he comes through with flying colors, and then I’ll sit with Matchroom, and then we’ll work something out.  There’s a will there’s a way, and I’m pretty sure, we’ll put something together,” said Arum.

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