By Charles Brun: Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) will be making a mandatory defense of his IBF, WBC & WBO light heavyweight belts against his WBC mandatory challenger Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) this summer on August 19 on ESPN, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes at the Aug. 19 at Videotron Centre in Québec City, Canada. The event start time is at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT. In the UK, fans can see the fight on Sky Sports and Ireland.
Beterbiev would obviously prefer to fight WBA champion Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed championship at 175. Still, he has no choice because the World Boxing Council ordered him to make the defense against his mandatory Smith.
The one positive for Beterbiev about this fight is that his promoters at Top Rank won the purse bid, so he won’t have to return to England for another title defense, as we saw in the two-time Olympian’s last defense against Anthony Yarde last January on London.
For that fight, the Ovo Arena in Wembley was filled to the brim with Yarde supporters, screaming their lungs, urging him on to victory. All that giant horde of fans rooting for Yarde resulted in him fighting above his pay grade, giving Beterbiev one of his more challenging fights before wilting in the eighth round under the firepower of the powerful Russian.
“When you are world champion, everyone wants the opportunity to take your belt, and that’s especially true in my case, with three titles at stake,” said Beterbiev. “I’ve already started my training camp, and I’ll be ready to defend my belts and put on an impressive show on August 19.”
The former WBA super middleweight champion Callum is fighting his first quality opponent since his one-sided 12 round unanimous decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in December 2020. Smith, 6’3”, looked as awful as they come in that fight, spending the vast majority of the contest covering up in his tortoiseshell against the ropes and getting bombarded by the gleeful-looking Canelo.
Seeing the writing on the wall, Callum wisely moved up to 175 because he likely realized that he could not get another title shot at 168, not with talents like David Benavidez, David Morrell, and Caleb Plant occupying the highest levels. In other words, for the stork-like Smith to get another nice life-changing payday against Canelo, he would need to go through ‘The Big Three’ – Benavidez, Morrell, and Plant – and he lacked the talent to beat those guys.
“I’m excited to finally get my opportunity to become a two-weight world champion. There was no hesitation from me going to Canada to fight Artur Beterbiev, and I will be returning to Liverpool as a world champion once more,” said Callum.