Artur Beterbiev’s next title defense will take place in his adopted home of Quebec, Canada.
The WBO, WBC, IBF light heavyweight champion from Russia is projected to defend his titles against England’s Callum Smith in “early August,” according to Beterbiev’s co-promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc.
Earlier this month, Top Rank won the rights to promote Beterbiev’s WBC-mandated title defense against Smith, submitting a bid ($2,115,000) that was only slightly more than the one turned in by Smith’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing ($2,100,000).
The fight has yet to be formally announced, but it will be televised on ESPN or ESPN+, the American cable network that has an exclusive content deal with Top Rank.
“That’s going to be in Quebec in early August,” Arum said of Beterbiev-Smith in an interview with ProBox TV. “We have a beautiful arena we’re putting it in in Quebec—we’ve already secured the arena—we’re ready to go, and we’re sending out all the papers. I don’t know exactly what the date is but he’ll be fighting Beterbiev in Quebec City in August.
“It’s a tremendous fight. But I was always relieved that whoever won the purse bid, the fight would happen. We won it—barely—and so we’re going to do it on ESPN. But Eddie put a good bid in, and he lost by, I think, $15,000, but the fight is the fight, and it will be a really splendid fight. These are two great professionals, and I’m looking for a very competitive match.”
Beterbiev, 38, is coming off a rousing eighth-round stoppage of England’s Anthony Yarde in January at Wembley Arena in London.
Liverpool’s Smith, a former titlist at 168, last fought in August, fourth-round stoppage of Mathieu Bauderlique. Smith moved up to 175 after suffering a title unification defeat to undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez in 2020.
Boxing fans had been hoping for an undisputed 175-pound title bout between Beterbiev and WBA titlist and fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol, but that fight is not likely to happen anytime soon because of corporate politics. Moreover, recently, Mauricio Sulaiman, the head of the WBC, stated that his sanctioning body would not allow Bivol to fight for their title, due to the circumstances of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, thus rendering an undisputed title bout moot.
Sean Nam is the author of the forthcoming book Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.