Another mandatory title defense awaits Artur Beterbiev.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the WBC has formally ordered Beterbiev to next face England’s Callum Smith. The two sides have until April 11 to reach terms and avoid a purse bid hearing for a bout that has already generated significant interest between their respective promoters.
Beterbiev (19-0, 19KOs) is promoted by Top Rank, while Smith (29-1, 21KOs) fights under the Matchroom Boxing banner. The two promotional powerhouses have done business together but seem to enjoy one-upping each other, particularly in fights of major significance such as one for the light heavyweight championship.
Chris McKenna of UK-based Daily Star was the first to report the development.
The call to order comes less than two months after Beterbiev’s most recent title defense. The reigning lineal, WBC, IBF and WBO light heavyweight turned away a stiff challenge from England’s Anthony Yarde en route to an eighth-round knockout on January 21 at OVO Arena Wembley. The win satisfied a WBO mandatory that was previously delayed due to an injury suffered by Beterbiev to postpone original plans for a fight last October 29 in London.
Demand has grown for an undisputed showdown between Beterbiev and WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11KOs), who is co-promoted by Matchroom and World of Boxing. However, the WBC was already on record, adamant that its mandatory would be next in line per a ruling from its annual convention last November in Acapulco, Mexico.
Smith earned the number-one slot following a fourth-round knockout of Mathieu Bauderlique in their WBC title eliminator last August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The win was the second straight in as many light heavyweight fights for Smith since his WBA super middleweight title reign ended in a December 2020 defeat to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Plans were in place for Smith to take a stay-busy fight atop a March 11 DAZN show in his Liverpool hometown. The 32-year-old was forced to withdraw after a back injury which put him on the shelf for roughly 6-8 weeks per medical orders. The timeframe will not stand in the way of the WBC’s deadline to satisfy its mandatory.
Beterbiev first won the IBF light heavyweight title with a November 2017 12th round knockout of Enrico Koelling. The 38-year-old from Montreal by way of Russia—the latter whom he represented in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics—has made seven title defenses, including unification knockout wins over lineal/WBC champ Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October 2019 and WBO titlist Joe Smith Jr. last June 18 in New York City.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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