The WBC have officially ordered Artur Beterbiev – who also holds the IBF and WBO belts – to defend his light heavyweight world title against mandatory challenger, Callum Smith.
Smith has been ranked #1 by the governing body since his win over Mathieu Bauderlique on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua 2 last year, and has been expecting to be called to face Beterbiev for the last couple of months.
Beterbiev and Smith’s promoters – Top Rank and Matchroom, respectively – have until April 11 to strike an agreement for the fight, otherwise purse bids will be ordered, as per the following statement from the WBC.
“The World Boxing Council has ordered WBC light heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev, to make his mandatory defence against Callum Smith. Negotiations should start as soon as possible.”
“The teams of both fighters must reach an agreement before April 11, otherwise a purse bid must be held.”
If finalised, the fight against Smith could be Beterbiev’s second consecutive contest on British shores after he successfully defended his unified crown against Anthony Yarde in London in January.
The Russian has won all 19 of his professional bouts by stoppage and will represent by far and away Smith’s toughest test since moving up to light heavyweight.
“Mundo” has looked strong since jumping up a weight class, winning both of his fights inside the distance, albeit against fighters of a significantly lower level than Beterbiev.
The Liverpudlian was due for a hometown tune up fight against Pawel Stepien at the M+S Bank Arena last weekend, however decided to withdraw after picking up an injury.
Beterbiev vs Smith is expected to take place in June at the earliest, as “King Artur” will be undertaking Ramadan until the end of April.