Artur Beterbiev to defend unified title vs. Callum Smith on Aug. 19
Unified light heavyweight championship fight set for Quebec City
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Three-belt light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev will make his WBC mandatory defense against Callum Smith on Aug. 19 at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada, Top Rank announced on Thursday.
The card, which Top Rank will put on in conjunction with Canadian promoter Eye of the Tiger Management, will headline a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN show (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET). It will air on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Beterbiev, a Russia native, who has boxed his entire professional career out of Montreal, where he lives, will have the crowd behind him in nearby Quebec City when he takes on Smith, the former WBA super middleweight champion from England.
“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 Aug. 19.”
Beterbiev, a two-time Olympian, who has unified the WBC, WBO and IBF 175-pound titles, will be fighting in Canada for only the second time since 2016. In a Montreal homecoming, he knocked out Marcus Browne in the ninth round in December 2021.
Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs), 38, will be making his eighth defense since winning the IBF belt in 2017. He is coming off a rousing eighth-round knockout of WBO mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde in an exciting fight on Jan. 28 in London.
“The legend of the sport’s most fearsome puncher, Artur Beterbiev, continues Aug. 19 in beautiful Quebec City for a fight that can’t help but be a light heavyweight championship classic,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “Callum Smith is a deserving mandatory challenger who won’t be intimidated fighting on Artur’s home turf.”
Smith (29-1, 21 KOs), 33, suffered his lone defeat by near-shutout decision in losing the WBA super middleweight title to Canelo Alvarez in December 2020.
Smith then he has moved up to light heavyweight and won both of his fights by stoppage, including by fourth-round knockout of Mathieu Bauderlique in a WBC title eliminator last August on the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua II undercard in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He has not fought since.
“I’m excited to finally get my opportunity to become a two-weight world champion,” Smith said. “I’m no stranger to fighting on away soil, having boxed in Saudi Arabia twice, across America, and now heading to Canada on Aug. 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.”
The card will also include super middleweight contender Christian Mbilli (24-0, 20 KOs), 28, of France, and heavyweight Simon Kean (23-1, 22 KOs), 34, of Canada, in 10-rounders against opponents to be determined.
“This is a momentous event for us, as we’re continually striving to bring major fights back to the province,” Eye of the Tiger president Camille Estephan said. “We’re thrilled to be able to make this happen with the best boxer in the history of Quebec, Artur Beterbiev, who will share the limelight with other EOTTM fighters. We hope that boxing fans will attend in droves, and that the evening will mark the beginning of a new era of boxing in Quebec.”
Top Rank, Beterbiev’s promoter, won the fight rights in a purse bid, outbidding Smith promoter Matchroom Boxing. Top Rank offered $2.115 million to barely beat Matchroom Boxing’s bid of $2.1 million.
Beterbiev gets 70 percent of 90 percent of the winning bid ($1,332,450) and Smith gets 30 percent of 90 percent ($571,050). The remaining 10 percent of Top Rank’s bid ($211,500) will be held by the WBC and go to the winner of the fight as a bonus.
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