Unbeaten light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev’s co-promoter won the right Tuesday afternoon to promote his WBC-mandated title defense against Callum Smith.
Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC, announced that Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. offered slightly more money than Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing at a purse bid conducted by the WBC in Guadalajara, Mexico. Top Rank’s winning bid was $2,115,000, just $15,000 more than the $2,100,000 offered by Matchroom, which promotes Smith.
As champion, Beterbiev is entitled to 70 percent of 90 percent of the winning bid, a purse of $1,332,450. Smith’s purse, based on 30 percent of 90 percent of the winning bid, is $571,050.
The remaining 10 percent of Top Rank’s winning offer, $211,500, will be awarded to whoever wins the Beterbiev-Smith match.
The date and the site for Beterbiev-Smith haven’t been determined. Assuming it happens, ESPN will televise it because Top Rank has an exclusive output deal with the American cable network.
The WBC called a Beterbiev-Smith purse bid after Top Rank, which co-promotes Beterbiev along with Group Yvon Michel, and Matchroom couldn’t come to an agreement on a deal. The two promoters were afforded additional time to work out contractual details, but eventually a purse bid became necessary.
The Russian-born, Montreal-based Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) owns the IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles in addition to the WBC belt. The 38-year-old Beterbiev most recently defeated England’s Anthony Yarde (23-3, 22 KOs), who was the mandatory challenger for his WBO belt, by eighth-round technical knockout January 28 at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
England’s Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) became the WBC’s number one contender by winning each of his light heavyweight bouts by knockout.
The Liverpool native stopped the Dominican Republic’s Lenin Castillo (24-4-1, 19 KOs) in the second round of his debut at the 175-pound limit on the Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk undercard in September 2021 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Smith then knocked out France’s Mathieu Bauderlique (21-2, 12 KOs) in the fourth round on the undercard of the Joshua-Usyk rematch last August 20 at Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Smith’s lone loss was a one-sided, unanimous-decision defeat to Mexican icon Canelo Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) in their super middleweight title unification fight in December 2020 at Alamodome in San Antonio. Alvarez, a four-weight world champion, was commonly considered boxing’s best fighter, pound-for-pound, at the time he beat Smith.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.