By Charles Brun: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has confirmed that he plans on staging IBF, WBC & WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev’s next title defense against Callum Smith in August in Quebec City on ESPN.
Arum’s Top Rank recently won the purse bid to stage the fight, out-bidding Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing by a mere $15K.
Had Hearn won the bid, he likely would have placed the fight in Callum Smith’s hometown of Liverpool, which would have put tremendous pressure on the unknown two-time Olympian Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) to score a knockout, lest he might end up in the same boat as John Ryder, who lost a highly controversial twelve round unanimous decision to Smith in November 2019.
The stork-like 6’3″ Callum (29-1, 21 KOs) hasn’t fought a quality opponent since his one-sided 12-round unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Canelo Alvarez in December 2020 in San Antonio, Texas.
Smith looked overmatched against Canelo, spending much of the time with his back against the ropes, resembling a dutiful sparring partner giving rounds to a champion.
Afteer that defeat, Smith moved up to 175, and his promoter Hearn has used skillful match-making to maneuver him into the WBC mandatory spot by putting him in with journeyman Lenin Castillo and Mathieu Bauderlique to get him the title shot against Beterbiev.
Bauderlique, the guy that Smith beat to become Beterbiev’s WBC mandatory, had earlier been knocked out in the first round by a fighter named Dragan Lepei (22-6-2, 10 KOs).
In other words, Callum Smith did precious little to earn the mandatory spot with the World Boxing Council. Some fans believe Callum should have fought Craig Richards or Joshua Buatsi to become the WBC mandatory instead of Bauderlique.
“That’s going to be in Quebec in early August,” Beterbiev’s promoter Arum said to ProBox TV. “We have a beautiful arena we’re putting it in in Quebec – we’ve already secured the arena – we’re ready to go, and we’re sending out all the papers. I don’t know exactly what the date is. We’re going to do it on ESPN.
“All of these light heavyweights who can crack are dangerous,” Arum said. “Beterbiev punches like a mule, so the only way you can beat him is if he’s fighting a guy with equal power. Can Smith hurt him? I don’t know. We’ll see,” said Arum.
Beterbiev vs. Smith has mismatch written all over it, but it should be interesting for the first few rounds before Callum retreats to the ropes and shells up for the remainder of the fight as he did in his contests against Canelo & Ryder.
Smith has an American trainer Buddy McGirt, who will warn him to stay off the ropes against the lethal puncher Beterbiev, but he’ll end up there anyway because he seems to have no heart or ability to fight in the center ring against quality opposition, as we saw in his fights against Canelo & Ryder.
Beterbiev is coming off an eighth round knockout win over Anthony Yarde last January in London, England. That fight was one of the more competitive ones for the 38-year-old Beterbiev due the fast hands and excellent power of Yarde.
Where Yarde went wrong is by going to the well one time too many by throwing too many uppercuts, and Beterbiev took advantage of that by clipping him with a right hand to send him to the canvas in the eighth round. What was interesting is Yarde’s trainer threw in the towel after he got back to his feet.
That was weird because Yarde should have been allowed to go out on his shield by throwing a few desperation uppercuts, as he’d been doing during the 8th against Beterbiev.