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175 Lbs Unification Fight Apparently On Hold As WBC Orders Artur Beterbiev To Face Callum Smith

175 Lbs Unification Fight Apparently On Hold As WBC Orders Artur Beterbiev To Face Callum Smith featured image
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 18: Artur Beterbiev heads back to his corner after the first round against Joe Smith Jr during the light heavyweight title bout at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The WBC has officially sent out an order for Russian-Canadian unified Light-Heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev, to face British contender Callum Smith in a mandatory defense of his WBC title. Beterbiev currently holds three titles – the WBC, WBO and IBF titles – and has recently already come off a mandatory defense against former #1 WBO contender, Anthony Yarde, but as of March 15th will need to face the prospect of facing another mandatory opponent in Smith.

With the WBC having set a deadline for the two fighters to negotiate terms before April 11th, both fighters’ management teams have roughly a month left to come to an agreement before the ordered bout will go to purse bids.

Though Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KO’s), 38, and Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KO’s), 32, had already expressed their interest in fighting each other, and were rumored to be engaging in contract talks for a spectacular undisputed bout between two Russian fighters, it seems talks have been stalled for the time being as Beterbiev is set to face a new – and challenging – opponent in Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KO’s).

Callum Smith is best known for having been the WBA champion at Super Middleweight before eventually losing his title to Canelo Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KO’s) who went on the become the division’s undisputed champion. Smith has since moved up and proved to be somewhat of a force at Light-Heavyweight where he has recorded a two-match undefeated knockout/stoppage streak.

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Callum Smith is set to becme Artur Beterbiev’s second British opponent in a row. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Smith presents an obstacle to Beterbiev’s plans to reign as the undisputed king of the 175 lbs division seeing as the Brit is currently in form and considered to be in the prime of his career. A loss to Canelo Alvarez seems to have done little to deter Callum Smith from pursuing another world title as he continues to test himself against the best available, and he is notably a step better than Beterbiev’s previous British opponent, Anthony Yarde (23-3, 22 KO’s), who despite his lack of an amateur career managed to become at least a two-time world title contender.

Smith, in comparison, has had success as both an amateur and a professional and seems like an even better match than Yarde who had power and determination in spades, but lacks the decades-long refinement of a former amateur boxing champion such as Callum Smith.

Despite the WBC’s order, it is known that their mandated fights can be safely ignored if the defending champion so pleases – especially if a unified or undisputed fight is on the cards. Though boxing fans may hope this will prove to be the case and that talks between Bivol and Beterbiev will head into a clear stage of negotiations, Beterbiev’s ordered fight with Smith seems no less compelling given the Brit’s talent, and Beterbiev’s own prevalent style of boxing which has seen him become the only world champion in boxing to retain a 100% knockout/stoppage streak.