By Keith Idec
Eddie Hearn had more pressing, Anthony Joshua-related business to address to Tuesday, but that didn’t stop him from announcing another title fight.
Hearn revealed through his Twitter account that he has reached an agreement for British contender Callum Johnson (17-0, 12 KOs) to challenge IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs). According to Hearn, whose company promotes Johnson, their fight for Beterbiev’s 175-pound championship will take place October 6 at an undetermined location in the United States.
The Beterbiev-Johnson fight is expected to be streamed by DAZN as part of Hearn’s content deal with Perform Group. That agreement – which could last eight years and become worth $1 billion – was officially announced last month in New York.
The 33-year-old Beterbiev’s last fight, in which he knocked out Germany’s Enrico Koelling to win the then-vacant IBF title, was televised by ESPN as part of the network’s partnership with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. The Russian knockout artist hasn’t fought since defeating Koelling (26-2, 8 KOs) on November 11 in Fresno, California, largely due to his legal battle with promoter Yvon Michel.
Quebec’s Michel recently won his case against Beterbiev in a Montreal superior court and his company, Group Yvon Michel, will remain Beterbiev’s promoter until 2021. Beterbiev attempted to terminate his contract with Michel by contending that its terms weren’t honored, but a Canadian judge disagreed and ruled June 8 that their contract is valid.
Smith, meanwhile, realizes this is a chance to completely change his career. Boxing Beterbiev also represents a huge step up in competition for the 32-year-old contender from England, who’s ranked No. 8 by the IBF.
“I’ve dreamt of winning a world title since I was a kid,” Smith told Sky Sports recently, “so I’m not going to turn down this chance because [Beterbiev] is this apparent beast. I believe I am a beast as well and can beat him.
“I don’t fear any man, so all the talk of how big and strong he is, his power, it’s all very well and good. But at the end of the day, he’s human. I don’t fear him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.