Smith seeking to ruin Beterbiev-Bivol plans ahead of long-awaited title challenge

Callum Smith has had to endure a torrid 2023 following the postponement of his unified world light-heavyweight title challenge against Artur Beterbiev, which had been due to be held in August. 

Smith (29-1, 21KOs) has yet to build on the momentum he gained at 175lbs following his decision to move up in weight after his decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in December 2020. 

But next Saturday (January 13) in Quebec, Smith will finally get in with one of the leading 175-pounders in the world in the form of Beterbiev (19-0, 19KOs). 

The fight was pushed back after Beterbiev sustained a jaw infection, which eventually required surgery. The postponement means Smith has not boxed for 17 months, while Beterbev has not fought since stopping Anthony Yarde almost a year ago. 

There are reports that Beterbiev and fellow light-heavyweight champion Dimitrii Bivol could meet in a unification fight later this year in Saudi Arabia, but Smith hopes to tear up those prospective plans and admitted to feeling disrespected by the speculation of a proposed encounter between the two champions. 

“I don’t blame people for wanting to see Beterbiev-Bivol,” Smith told Boxing Social. “As a boxing fan, that’s a fight that I would like to see. It is a little disrespectful when there are people in boxing posting, and I’m due to fight [Beterbiev] in January.”

Beterbiev, who possesses one of the most intimidating and impressive ledgers in boxing with a perfect 19 wins and 19 knockouts, does not intimidate Smith, who believes the best version of himself beats anyone in the world.

“I’m confident in my own ability”, continued Smith. “I feel I can beat him when I’m at my best. I believe the best version of me beats anyone in the world. In my eyes, it’ll be me [winning against] Beterbiev and then me against Bivol after that. So, I think I can ruin people’s plans. I’m not angry for people wanting to see the fight because it’s a fight that people want to see. At the moment, they’re the two champions in this weight division - so I can’t really take too much offence about it.”

Despite Smith’s confidence, it is a considerable step up in calibre for the former super-middleweight world champion. Since entering the 175lb ranks, Smith has consecutive knockout wins against Gilbert Castillo Rivera and Mathieu Bauderlique in 2021 and 2022, respectively.