GLENDALE, Arizona – Callum Smith will head home for his next bout while waiting out a shot at becoming a two-division champ.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the former WBA super middleweight titlist and current WBC number-one light heavyweight contender is set to return to the ring on March 11 in Smith’s hometown Liverpool. England. The bout will serve as means to remain active while waiting out the winner of the January 28 Artur Beterbiev-Anthony Yarde light heavyweight championship fight at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
However, a stay-busy affair is not at all sought by Smith, with rumors swirling of a potential all-UK showdown with unbeaten contender Joshua Buatsi.
“He will return March 11 in Liverpool, that much I can confirm,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com. “He’s gonna be mandated to fight the winner of Beterbiev and Yarde. There is the talk of a Buatsi fight, possibly.
“Regardless, we want him in with a world-ranked top fifteen fighter in Liverpool in March.”
Smith (29-1, 21KOs) is 2-0 with two knockouts since moving up to light heavyweight following his December 2020 twelve-round loss to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez to end his super middleweight title reign. The 32-year old has fought just a combined fifteen minutes’ worth of ring time in that span, most recently in a fourth-round knockout of Mathieu Bauderlique on August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The bout served as a final eliminator for the WBC light heavyweight title currently held by Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs), who is also the recognized lineal, IBF and WBO champ. Beterbiev first has to tend to an overdue WBO mandatory with Ilford’s Yarde (23-2, 22KOs), though with Smith assured a shot at the winner as ruled by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman during the sanctioning body’s annual convention in mid-November.
There are easier ways for Smith to wait out the process than in pursuing a dangerous in-country showdown.
Buatsi (16-0, 13KOs) has steadily risen the ranks since turning pro in 2017 following his Bronze medal run while representing Great Britain in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is currently ranked number-two by the WBC, number-one by the WBA and number-three by the WBO.
The only sanctioning body where Buatsi’s name is absent is with the IBF, after abandoning plans for a title eliminator with former lineal/WBC champ Jean Pascal. The development has left the 29-year-old Londoner—originally from Ghana—out of the ring since a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Craig Richards in their May 21 semifinal title eliminator at The O2 in London.
“We’ll see if it’s Buatsi next for Callum Smith,” noted Hearn. “But what we do know, Callum is back at it March 11, and then— as long as he wins —onto the winner of Beterbiev-Yarde for all the marbles.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox