Though the entire boxing world wants – see craves – a showdown between rival light heavyweight champions Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol, this all-Russian showdown doesn’t appear to be close to happening any time soon. In the meantime, reigning WBC/IBF/WBO 175-pound king Beterbiev has been ordered by the WBC to defend against Britain’s Callum Smith.
As per a report from The Star, the fight must be agreed upon by the two sides before April 11, or else a purse bid will be called for. The 100 percent KO’ing Beterbiev is promoted by Top Rank, while Smith is looked after by Matchroom. It’s safe to say that Top Rank’s Bob Arum and Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn are not best pals, but hopefully, a deal can be reached here.
Beterbiev, an impressive 19-0(19), is coming off a thrilling, hard-fought stoppage win over an extremely game Anthony Yarde; this fight, some suggest, being in the frame as far as scooping up the FOTY award when the time comes. Smith, 29-1(21), earned WBC mandatory status in his last fight when he stopped Mathieu Bauderlique last August.
Smith was to have boxed a keep-busy affair since then, but an injury forced him to remain idle. So, going into a fight with wrecking machine Beterbiev having been out of the ring for some months, though not ideal, seems to be what Smith will do next.
This one’s a good fight, an interesting fight, even if it’s not the big four-belt unification clash we all so badly want to see. Beterbiev, in the opinion of some, looked all of his 38 years in the Yarde fight, the Russian a little slower and easier to hit in the fight, somewhat vulnerable even. That said, Beterbiev was able to walk through the big-punching Yarde’s best shots in January.
The big-for-the-weight Smith, a former super-middleweight ruler, is significantly younger at age 32, and he has never been stopped, his sole loss coming via a lopsided decision against Canelo Alvarez.
Wherever this fight is held (Smith will, of course, be hoping the fight lands in the UK), Beterbiev has to be looked at as the favorite to win. Still, Liverpool’s Smith is experienced, he has those long arms, and he has shown nasty power at 175. So far, no man has been able to take Beterbiev the full 12 rounds. Might Smith be the man up to the task? Might Smith do better than that?