Callum Smith will bid to become a two-weight world champion when he takes on unified WBC, WBO and IBF light-heavyweight boss Artur Beterbiev in Quebec City, Canada; watch Beterbiev vs Smith live on Sky Sports in the UK on August 20
Thursday 25 May 2023 19:03, UK
Liverpool's Callum Smith will challenge Artur Beterbiev for the unified light-heavyweight world titles, live on Sky Sports in the UK on August 20.
WBC 175lb No 1 Smith will travel to Quebec City in Canada to fight Montreal resident Beterbiev for the WBC, IBF and WBO championships.
Beterbiev is one of the most formidable punchers in boxing with a 100 per cent knockout ratio. But Smith, previously the WBA super-middleweight titlist, is on a mission to become a two-weight world champion.
"Quebec is my second home, so I'm very happy to finally defend my titles on home turf," Beterbiev said.
"When you are world champion, everyone wants the opportunity to take your belt, and that's especially true in my case, with three titles at stake. I've already started my training camp, and I'll be ready to not only defend my belts, but to also put on an impressive show August 19 [local time]."
But Smith warned: "I'm no stranger to fighting on away soil, having boxed in Saudi Arabia twice, across America, and now heading to Canada on August 19. There was no hesitation from me going to Canada to fight Artur Beterbiev, and I will be returning to Liverpool as a world champion once more.
"I'm excited to finally get my opportunity to become a two-weight world champion."
Smith took over the super-middleweight division when he knocked out George Groves in 2018 to win the WBA championship and the World Boxing Super Series.
He beat John Ryder but lost his title in a unification clash with Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez.
Smith subsequently stepped up to light-heavyweight, winning his two fights in the new division with highly-impressive knockout finishes, most recently against Mathieu Bauderlique.
Beterbiev, though, has stopped every professional opponent he has faced. The two-time Olympian and amateur world champion has lived in Montreal since turning pro a decade ago.
He has made seven world title defences since toppling Enrico Koelling for the vacant IBF title in November 2017, including a shootout with Britain's Callum Johnson, then a gym-mate of Smith's.
"For the UK it's bombs away, you're talking about Artur Beterbiev who has an incredible reputation globally but just comes off a fight here in the UK, and he knocks people out," Top Rank president Todd DuBoef told Sky Sports.
"Callum Smith is a great knockout puncher as well, who comes from here. That match gets right to the heart of fight fans here and general sports fans.
"Whenever you see a fight between two guys with dynamite in their hands it's always exciting and will keep you on the edge of your seat."
Beterbiev picked up the WBC strap with a stirring 2019 knockout over Oleksandr Gvozdyk, then added the WBO title to his collection with last year's second-round drubbing of Joe Smith Jr.
He has only fought once in Canada as a world champion, weathering a terrible cut to secure a ninth-round TKO over Marcus Browne in December 2021.
Beterbiev followed up the Joe Smith triumph with January's thrilling eighth-round stoppage over Anthony Yarde in the latter's home city of London.
"The legend of the sport's most fearsome puncher, Artur Beterbiev, continues August 19 in beautiful Quebec City for a fight that can't help but be a light-heavyweight championship classic," said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
But, he added: "Callum Smith is a deserving mandatory challenger who won't be intimidated fighting on Artur's home turf."
The imperious Beterbiev will enter the contest aged 38 and coming off arguably one of the toughest fights of his career against Yarde, so will the latter's performance offer encouragement to Smith?
"I think it's a little bit of the Lomachenko riddle, you're looking at two guys into their mid-to-late 30s who had incredible amateur careers and a body of work that as a pro and an amateur was incredible," added DuBoef.
"The question is 'is there a time when that high-powered Ferrari doesn't run anymore?' and it starts to run a little slower than it used to run.
"Is that what we see when Beterbiev showed some vulnerability against Anthony Yarde, was it that he's not as fine-tuned as he was two years ago or that the style of Yarde gave him difficulties? It's a real big question."