Beterbiev must defend against Callum Smith after Yarde fight, says WBC president Sulaiman

By Sam Volz: WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman informed the media on Tuesday that IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev is set to defend against WBC mandatory Callum Smith after facing WBO mandatory early in the season. 2023.

This means that unless the undefeated Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) vacates his WBC or WBO 175-pound titles, boxing fans won’t get a chance to see him take on WBA champion Dmitry Bivol. in 2023. In other words, the Beterbiev vs. Bivol fight should be pushed back to 2024, and that’s only if both guys win their contests next year.

This is good news for Eddie Hearn as he wants to set up a rematch between Bivol and Canelo Alvarez in May 2023.

Bivol appeared ambivalent about the next battle against Canelo, preferring to face Beterbiev for the undisputed championship at 175.

Although Hearn repeatedly pointed out that Beterbiev likely won’t be available until September 2023 at the earliest, Bivol continued to talk about his preference to face him next rather than fighting Canelo in a rematch.

Now that WBC President Sulaiman has spoken about the need for Beterbiev to make back-to-back mandatory defenses against Yarde (22-2, 21 KOs) and Callum (29-1, 21 KOs), it sets the stage for a Canelo against Rematch Bivol early next year, as long as the Mexican superstar chooses to fight in May.

It will be interesting to see if Bivol changes his mind about not wanting to fight Canelo anymore. If Bivol is still determined to face Canelo in a rematch, even though Beterbiev won’t be available next year, then WBA No. 2 Joshua Buatsi would likely be his next fight. Hearn has already said he would love to do the Bivol vs. Buatsi fight.

If Beterbiev wasn’t focused on fighting for the undisputed championship, he could vacate his WBC and WBO titles and jump straight into a unification bout with Bivol.

The boxing public wouldn’t care if there were only two belts on the line for the Beterbiev vs. Bivol fight instead of four, as their interest in this matchup is due to the quality of these fighters rather than the titles they hold.

Former WBA super middleweight champion Callum, 32, hasn’t done much since moving up to 175 in 2021, beating Lenin Castillo and Mathieu Bauderlique, Lenin Castillo.

Although they are decent lower level contenders, they are a far cry from top contenders in the light heavyweight division like Joshua Buatsi, Joe Smith, Craig Richards or even Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez.

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