Smith offered date in September as he counts down to Beterbiev

Callum Smith has been offered an interim fight on the undercard of Richardson Hitchins-Jose Zepeda on September 23.

The light heavyweight is to challenge Artur Beterbiev for the IBF, WBC and WBO titles in Quebec City, Canada on January 13, but if he waits until then he’ll have been inactive for approaching 18 months.

They had been scheduled to fight on August 19 until Beterbiev suffered a jaw infection as a consequence of dental surgery, leading to a postponement. 

Even at 38 the Russian remains thought of as one of the world’s most dangerous fighters, contributing to Smith’s desire to remain active. Smith and his trainer Buddy McGirt have also previously had only two fights together – the postponement of the fight with Beterbiev came with under three weeks remaining before their original date – and the withdrawal of Dillian Whyte, another of McGirt’s fighters, from his fight with Anthony Joshua has also undermined him.

“We tried to get him on the ‘AJ’ card, but obviously two weeks out and the fight goes off pay-per-view – all the slots are taken,” Smith’s promoter Eddie Hearn told ProBox TV. “It’s just, impossible. 

“The offer’s there for him to fight in September, but he’s in a bit of a pickle, because he hasn’t boxed now for a year, so really, he wants a run out. But it’s very difficult to run him out. We was looking at maybe trying to get him out on the card this Saturday but it’s a NextGen [bill, in Birmingham].”

In February 2020 the 33-year-old Smith’s domestic rival Anthony Yarde – who lost to Beterbiev in January – fought at Discoteca Memphis, a nightclub in Madrid, and stopped Diego Jair Ramirez in two rounds as he rebuilt following his first defeat, by Sergey Kovalev.

“Then he sort of says, ‘I’ll box behind closed doors’,” Hearn continued. “And it’s like – you don’t want to put Callum Smith on behind closed doors, so we’re trying to find a way to make it work for his training team

“[It’s between] fighting in September or waiting. In an eight-rounder, probably.”