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Eddie Hearn expects Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Smith to be ordered by WBC immediately

Image: Eddie Hearn expects Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Smith to be ordered by WBC immediately

By Sam Volz: Eddie Hearn says that Matchroom has written to inform the WBC about Callum Smith’s unfortunate injury,  which will keep him from fighting his scheduled opponent Pawel Stepien on March 11th, and he now wants the sanctioning body to order IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev to make his mandated defense against Callum next.

Rather than Hearn rescheduling the Callum-Stepien fight, Hearn wants the WBC to order Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) to defend against Smith (29-1, 21 KOs), as he’s the mandatory for his World Boxing Council belt after defeating Mathieu Bauderlique and Lenin Castillo since moving up to the 175-lb division in 2021.

Some boxing fans might see Callum’s injury as a convenient one because he’s now in a position to fight for a world title against Beterbiev, who doesn’t have a scheduled opponent.

Why take a risky fight against Stepien when you’ve got a guaranteed payday against Beterbiev, who didn’t look all that impressive in his last fight against Anthony Yarde. After that performance, Callum might like his chances against the 38-year-old Beterbiev.

If Callum can get to Beterbiev before Dmitry Bivol does, he’s got an excellent chance of capturing his three 175-lb belts. With those belts, Callum can transmute the titles to get a better financial deal against WBA champ Bivol. It’s smart.

Beterbiev vs. Callum Smith could be ordered immediately

“Yeah, I think the injury isn’t too bad, but I think it’s going to keep him out for six to eight weeks,” said Eddie Hearn to Matchroom Boxing about Callum Smith suffering an injury, resulting in his March 11th fight against Pawel Stepien being canceled.

“Really, when you look at it, the disappointing thing for any fighter is when you’ve completed a camp. He’s really a week before the fight,” Hearn continued about Callum. “He’s done eight to ten weeks of training out in America, and he’s been back out in Liverpool.

“It’s disappointing, but it now focuses on Artur Beterbiev, really. We’ve written to the WBC to inform them. He’s the mandatory for Artur Beterbiev. We expect that fight to be called now and negotiations to begin almost imminently.

“It’s disappointing,” said Hearn about Callum Smith’s inconvenient injury, which wipes out his March 11th fight against Stepien. “I got the news normally, as usual, the day before everybody else. He’s yet to see the relevant specialists. Unfortunately, he had to pull out of the fight.

May 11th card will go ahead without Callum

“You look at the card, the strength of the card, the depth of the card, which is a strong card in Liverpool. Obviously, these fighters have been training for eight or ten weeks, and we got ahead on March 11th with the co-main event, really, with Robbie Davis against Foley and Diego Pacheco making his UK debut against Jake Cullen.

“Johnny Fisher has 1000 of them coming up from Essex for his big fight as well. Rhiannon Dixon going for the Commonwealth title. Peter McGrail in his first 10 round fight for us as well. There are loads of strength on the card, and I’m looking forward to a big night.

“It’s really important to have a lot of our young talent fighting internationally. For Diego [Pacheco], this is a little bit of a gamble because this is a big thing fighting abroad, and now, he moves up a spot in the card.

“Now, he’s up against not just an experienced fighter in Jack Cullen and a lot of fans as well coming to the arena to support him, but also the whole new experience and focus that will be on him next week. He’s got his own little fan workout in London early next week, and he’s heading out to Liverpool for the media workout there for the press conference.

“I see Diego Pacheco as a future star of the sport. I see him as a future world champion. He’s been doing hard rounds [of sparring] with David Benavidez, and I think he’s ready to go in those big fights.

“Jack Cullen, we’ve seen against Avni Yildirim. He’s always in great fights, and it’s a really good test for Diego Pacheco. We’ll see where he’s at in his career because Jack Cullen will give him everything he can handle.

“When you go from the TV card, you’ve got Rhiannon Dixon, who has looked really, really good under [trainer] Anthony Crolla in recent fights, has his first championship fight for the Commonwealth title. It’s a good fight.

“Peter McGrail, an Olympian. I feel like he’s going to go on to become a world champion for Liverpool. He’s in his first 10-rounder. Aqib Fiaz, Campbell Hatton, Johnny Fisher, and Robbie Davis has a tough fight.

“Obviouslly, disappointed that Liam Paro couldn’t make the fight, but Daryl Foley from Liverpool based in Australia is a big opportunity for him. He’s a lot of fun as well. It’s going to be a good card next Saturday,” Hearn said.

Another pullout

“Two in a week, really. You become numb to these pullouts, but certainly, the Amanda Serrano one hurt because we were really looking forward to the homecoming for Katie Taylor,” Hearn continued. “After the fight with Erika Cruz, it was a tough fight.

“In situations like that, you get in the ring, and you go up to the manager, the trainer, and you say, ‘Is your hands okay?’ She had a little nick on her eye, but everyone said, ‘We’re 100%, May 20th, let’s announce.’

“As the weeks have unfolded, she’s not going to be ready, and we’re now in a situation where it’s quite unusual for Katie to call out a fighter [Chantel Cameron], and I feel like we know behind the scenes that she would fight anybody.

“But there’s always been that perception that Chantel Cameron was the tough fight. The English fighter, undefeated. I’ve always said that when Chantel racked up the belts and the performances that she would be the frontrunner, and that’s exactly what’s happened.

“She undisputed at 140 lbs. It’s a tremendous fight, and Katie Taylor, looking at the Amanda Serrano injury, has said,  ‘I want to fight May 20th. I’ve planned for that homecoming, and the three arenas is available.’

“Chantel came straight back and said, ‘I want to do it.’ We got to agree to the money on both sides. We’re not a million miles away, but you’ve seen the reaction for that fight. It’s a tremendous fight.

“I think it could be a tougher fight than Amanda Serrano. Chantel is a bigger fighter, she’s very aggressive, and she punches very hard, and she’s believed for a long time that she wins that fight.

“Fair play to Katie Taylor. She’s incredible. You’ve got Alycia Baumgardner in a division below that. That’s a potential fight as well, but I believe there’s a good chance that we can get Taylor-Cameron over the line next week.

“I need to sit down with DAZN and go through that schedule. They’ve already said, ‘We need strength in May particularly. That was a big fight [Taylor vs. Serrano II] for the schedule. So that needs to be replaced, and we’ll see what they want to do, but I’m very hopeful of making that fight.

“I spoke to here [Katie Taylor] on the phone. She’s not in the mood to mess around. She knows what she wants.  She’s happy to fight anyone, she always has done. As I said, there’s always been that perception that Chantel Cameron could be the one that could be the real tough one [for Taylor], but she rises to the challenge.

“She believes she can beat anyone in Ireland. Chantel Cameron is ready for the big opportunity, and we’ll see where we get to next week, but I think it’s an amazing fight if we can get that made in Dublin for May 20th,” said Hearn.

Matchroom flagship star news

“Conor Benn is pretty much ready to go,” said Hearn about Matchroom’s flagship star. “The end of May or early June is the date for Conor Benn. We have to decide where that will be. It’s most likely that it’ll be in America or the Middle East.

“I don’t think that will be in Britain next. We need to sit down with the British Boxing Board of Control, but there have been a number of negotiations for a long time with Sean Gibbons and with Manny Pacquiao and his team about a fight in the Middle East and about fighting Conor Benn.

“I think it’s a tremendous fight. It’s a big fight for Conor Benn to come back to.  The eyes of the world will be watching Conor Benn for him going into that fight. It’s been a very controversial period for him.

“Everybody has had their opinions, but he’s ready to explode back on the scene, and it could be Manny Pacquiao. Expect to see Conor Benn back in early summer,” said Hearn.

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