Eddie Hearn adamantly believes that one of his top light heavyweight charges will soon be in a position to fight for three of the four 175-pound belts.
Hearn, the head of Matchroom Boxing, insisted in a recent interview that he believes Liverpool’s Callum Smith will eventually be mandated by the WBC to take on the winner of the upcoming light heavyweight unification bout between Russia’s Artur Beterbiev, the WBC, WBO, and IBF champion, and Britain’s Anthony Yarde, the WBO mandatory challenger. The two will square off Jan. 28 at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
Smith is the No. 1 light heavyweight contender in the WBC rankings.
“Callum Smith has to fight the winner of that fight,” Hearn told iFL TV. “His next fight will be announced shortly, it will be in March. He is mandated to fight the winner of Yarde-Beterbiev from the WBC.”
If the WBC does indeed end up ordering Smith to fight the winner of Beterbiev-Yarde, it will mean yet another delay to an undisputed matchup involving one of Hearn’s other clients, Russia’s Dmitry Bivol, the WBA titlist.
In addition, Bivol’s schedule in 2023 may already be somewhat set. The Russian is expected to return in the spring, followed by a rematch with Canelo Alvarez in the fall. Hearn’s plan seems to involve making sure that Smith will get a shot at the three belts before Bivol does.
However, there may be a political dimension that may make a fight between Smith and the winner of Beterbiev-Yarde difficult to negotiate. Beterbiev is backed by Top Rank and Yarde is promoted by Queensberry; neither company does much business with Hearn’s Matchroom and their heads, moreover, have often ridiculed Hearn. Top Rank founder Bob Arum famously stated last year that he would not let Beterbiev fight under a Hearn-promoted card.
A former super middleweight titleholder, Smith, 32, has reeled off two straight wins at 175 ever since he dropped a wide decision to Alvarez in a 168-pound title unification bout in 2020.