By Steve Kim
For the past month or so there was rampant speculation that Joe Smith would be challenging WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol on HBO in late November.
As Previously reported on BoxingScene.com, it looks like Smith will still be fighting for a 175-pound belt but it will be against IBF titlist Artur Beterbiev.
Joe DeGuardia, the head of Star Boxing, confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Monday - "Our plan is to fight for the championship by the end of the year and our target is Beterbiev."
As for the change in championship opponent, DeGuardia explained - "They're both good fights, they're both world championship fights and when all is said and done I think Beterbiev is going to get in the ring with Joe and defend his title against Joe. That's the hope and expectation that we'll get that done this year."
The date being brandied about is December 15th.
"I'll leave that to where it fits best for the network," said DeGuardia, who confirmed that this bout would be carried on DAZN.
So how did this go from Bivol (who is still scheduled to fight on HBO by the end of 2018) to Beterbiev?
"I think the winds of boxing change very often," said DeGuardia, chuckling at the turn of events.
"And look, a lot of things happen in the boxing world and we at one point in time were expecting to be on HBO against Bivol and then there was the potential it was going to be on DAZN against Beterbiev or Bivol or one of the world champions. But ultimately Beterbiev is who we're expecting to fight by the end of this year."
Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KO's) recently defended his title on October 6th by stopping Callum Johnson in four rounds in Chicago on a card that was streamed by DAZN.
Smith's most recent fight took place on June 30th where he knocked out Melvin Russell in one round. He had been out nearly a year after suffering a broken jaw versus Sullivan Barrera in the summer of 2017.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com