By Barry Holbrook: Eddie Hearn says the WBC has told him they’ll order light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev to defend against his mandatory challenger Callum Smith next.
Unless the 38-year-old Beterbiev has gotten old overnight since his eighth round knockout win over Anthony Yarde on January 28th in London, he will blow out Callum Smith in a one-sided fight.
As soon as Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) returns from Ramadan, his fight he must defend against Callum (29-1, 21 KOs) means no undisputed 175-lb championship fight for Artur against WBA champion Dmitry Bivol until next year.
Due to an injury of sorts, the 32-year-old former WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith pulled out of his scheduled March 11th fight against Pawel Stepien at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
It’s unclear what the injury was for Callum, and many boxing fans on social believe that he was never hurt and just wanted to be clear of the risky fight so that he could challenge Beterbiev straightaway for a nice payday without the worry of potentially losing his interim contest against the tough as nails Stepien.
People would much rather see Beterbiev fight Bivol next rather than waste time facing Callum Smith, who has done precious little to earn the title shot opportunity since moving up to 175 after suffering a one-sided loss to Canelo Alvarez in 2020.
The tall, stork-like 6’3″ Liverpool native Callum has fought just twice since moving up to light heavyweight, beating Lenin Castillo and Mathieu Bauderlique.
Ideally, Callum should have had at least three to five fights to earn a world title shot after his loss to Canelo because it looks bad for a fighter to get a shot against a champion so soon after losing the way Smith did.
The two fighters Smith beat were arguably gimme opponents and not the type that one would like to see for a fighter like Callum to be given a world title shot chance after the way he was embarrassed by Canelo.
If Smith had beaten these fighters at 175, there wouldn’t be any criticism about him getting a title shot against WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev:
- Joshua Buatsi
- Joe Smith Jr
- Craig Richards
- Dan Azeez
- Gilberto Ramirez
Having Callum run the gauntlet to earn the fight against Beterbiev would have made perfect sense because his career has been tainted by his one-sided loss to Canelo and his highly controversial 12 round decision win over John Ryder in 2019. Callum arguably lost to Ryder in their fight in Liverpool, and it was shocking that he was hand-picked by Canelo afterward.