WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman says Artur Beterbiev must defend against mandatory Callum Smith next and that there won’t be an undisputed fight with Dmitry Bivol because of the Russian ban the sanctioning body has.
IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) had hoped to face WBA champ Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs) next, but Sulaiman says that’s not going to happen. Smith must be next up.
Bivol’s management hasn’t petitioned the WBC for him to be permitted to face Beterbiev, according to Sulaiman.
Perhaps one reason for that is Bivol’s promoter Eddie Hearn already has his next two fights in mind this year against Joshua Buatsi in April and then Canelo Alvarez in September.
Unfortunately for Beterbiev, it looks like he will not get the opportunity to face Bivol until the first quarter of 2024. By that point, Beterbiev will be 39 years old, and who knows whether he’ll have aged to where his chances of defeating Bivol will be slim.
American fans won’t be too excited about seeing Beterbiev fight Callum (29-1, 21 KOs) because he didn’t perform well in his fight with Canelo Alvarez in December 2020 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Callum looked like a skinny sparring partner, fighting with his back against the ropes, cowering and showing no effort to try and win the fight. While Callum has won his two fights since then, they were against mediocre opposition at 175. The WBC surprisingly gave Callum the mandatory spot from his win over Mathieu Bauderlique last August.
The Eddie Hearn prompted Callum will be taking a big step up in class when he faces Beterbiev, and he’ll likely be taken out quickly when the time comes.
It works in Hearn’s favor to delay the Beterbiev vs. Bivol fight for as long as possible because of Artur’s advanced age. If the sly fox Hearn delays that fight until next year or the year after in 2025, that increases the chances of Bivol winning.
“Bivol has not approached WBC (to ask for an exemption),” Sulaiman said to Izqierdazo. “At our last Convention, we were very clear about our position in relation to fighters from Russia and Belarus. And that is the case with Bivol”.
“At this moment, I insist, there has not been a petition (from Bivol’s side). For us, the mandatory fight is next (between Beterbiev and Smith)”.
“Callum Smith is a marvelous fighter. His only loss was a unanimous decision with Canelo. So, the mandatory fight between Beterbiev and Smith will be very important,” said Sulaiman.