The fact that a world title shot is on the horizon is a big factor in Callum Smith’s decision to withdraw from his scheduled fight with Pawel Stepien this weekend, according to brother Paul.
News broke last Friday that Smith had pulled out of the fight at the M+S Bank Arena in his home city of Liverpool, leaving Diego Pacheco vs Jack Cullen to headline the card.
And elder brother Paul told Boxing Social that, with a shot at unified world champion Beterbiev set for the summer, fighting Stepien whilst carrying an injury would simply be too great a risk to take.
“He’s fighting for a world title next. A little niggle has appeared, and fighting would be too detrimental to the world title fight. So he’s been advised to pull out.”
“It’s one of those things – it happens. It was literally the last week of camp when it happened, which has p****d him off the most. Why couldn’t it happen in the first week instead of putting all that work in?”
“Ultimately, it’s all roads leading to Beterbiev and those three belts, and risking an injury when you’re not 100% just isn’t something you want to do.”
Smith is mandatory challenger for ‘King Arthur’s WBC light heavyweight world title, and promoter Eddie Hearn stated his desire to make that fighter after the Russian completes Ramadan.
If finalised, it will be Beterbiev’s second consecutive fight on British shores, after successfully defending his unified world title against Anthony Yarde in London in January via an eighth round stoppage.
The 38 year old is pound for pound star and one of the most feared champions in the sport, so it is hard to blame Smith for wanting to be on his ‘A’ game if and when the pair meet.