TOP Rank have won the purse bids to stage Artur Beterbiev’s next fight.
The world light-heavyweight champion will face WBC mandatory challenger Callum Smith in the next defence of his titles.
Beterbiev’s promoters outbid Smith’s backers Matchroom by $15,000 dollars with a winning bid of $2.115m.
Eddie Hearn had hoped to stage the fight in Liverpool but now his Scouse star may have to travel to America or Canada to challenge Beterbiev.
Beterbiev 19-0 (19) was on UK shores for his last world title defence in January stopping Anthony Yarde in a brutal affair. The fight ended with an eighth-round stoppage win for the champ but not before he had taken his fair share of lumps from the challenger who proved he belongs on the world stage.
Fans had hoped that an undisputed fight between Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol would be next, but the World Boxing Council have vetoed any chance of that happening. The sanctioning body currently will not allow Russian or Belarussian fighters participate in any of their bouts because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
President Mauricio Sulaiman told ESPN, “This is absolutely sports-directed. There is no boxing in Ukraine because of the invasion. So as long as there’s no boxing in Ukraine, we cannot simply overlook and state that there’s boxing in Russia or Belarus from the WBC.”
Bivol and Beterbiev are both Russian, but the latter holds a Canadian passport, residency and boxing licence allowing him to continue defending their 175lbs title.
Callum Smith 29-1 (21) will now go toe-to-toe with Beterbiev who is unbeaten in 19 fights with each opponent unable to go the distance. The British fighter, a former super-middleweight champion, is no slouch in the punch power department either as his last two performances have shown against Gilbert Castillo Rivera and Mathieu Bauderlique. And despite having gone 12 rounds with Canelo Alvarez in 2020 this looks like being Smith’s toughest assignment yet.