The WBC has officially instructed that Beterbiev take on Callum Smith of England next. For a fight that has already attracted a lot of interest from the promoters on both sides, the two parties have until April 11 to come to an agreement.
Smith (29-1, 21KOs) competes under the Matchroom Boxing brand, while Beterbiev (19-0, 19KOs) is promoted by Top Rank. Although the two promotional powerhouses have worked together on projects, they seem to relish outdoing one another, especially when it comes to fights with significant stakes, like one for the light heavyweight title.
Less than two months have passed since Beterbiev's most recent championship defense before the call to order. On January 21 at OVO Arena Wembley, the current lineal, WBC, IBF, and WBO light heavyweight defeated Anthony Yarde of England by TKO in the eighth round. The victory fulfilled a WBO mandatory that had been put off because Beterbiev's injury forced the initial plans for a fight on October 29 in London to be postponed.
Undisputed matchup between Beterbiev and WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11KOs), who is co-promoted by Matchroom and World of Boxing, has asked by the fans to be made.
Following a fourth-round knockout of Mathieu Bauderlique in their WBC title eliminator on August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Smith won the top spot. Since losing his WBA super middleweight title fight to Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in December 2020, Smith has won two consecutive fights at light heavyweight.
Smith was scheduled to battle on March 11 during a DAZN event in his hometown of Liverpool. Due to a back injury that required him to be sidelined for approximately 6 to 8 weeks, the 32-year-old was forced to withdraw. The WBC's timetable to meet its requirement won't be hindered by the timeframe.
With a TKO of Enrico Koelling in the 12th round in November 2017, Beterbiev first captured the IBF light heavyweight championship. The 38-year-old Russian-born boxer from Montreal has defended his titles seven times, including victories over lineal/WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October 2019 and WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. on June 18 in New York City. He also competed for Russia at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.