A risky mandatory title defense

A risky mandatory title defense

By Vincent Morin

WBC, IBF and WBO light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KO) will defend his titles against WBC mandatory contender Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KO) on Saturday at the Videotron Center in Quebec. Facing the Briton, Marc Ramsay's protégé will face a major challenge, literally and figuratively.

Measuring 6’3”, Smith, former WBA champion and The Ring super middleweight (168 lbs), won the prestigious tournament World Boxing Super Series before recording his only defeat, on December 19, 2020 against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

Since then, he has moved up to light heavyweight (175 lbs), where he has two victories by knockout. However, he has not fought since August 20, 2022, when he knocked out French Olympic medalist Mathieu Bauderlique in a WBC elimination bout.

For Beterbiev, this duel imposed by the WBC is the last obstacle before a shock unification of all the world light heavyweight belts against the WBA and IBO champion Dmitrii Bivol (22-0, 11 KO). With a victory over Smith, this much-hoped-for meeting should take place in Saudi Arabia.

During his last outing, on January 28 at Wembley Stadium in London, the adopted Montrealer stopped the Briton Anthony Yarde (24-3, 23 KO) in the eighth attack after a furious fight. The 38-year-old two-time Olympian was scheduled to face Smith in 2023, but a dental infection leading to surgery postponed plans until January 13.

Undercard

In the semi-final of the evening, the WBO bantamweight world champion (118 lbs), the Australian Jason Maloney (26-2, 19 KO), will make a first title defense against the Californian Saul Sanchez (20-2). , 12 KO).

The spectacular Frenchman of Cameroonian origin Christian Mbilli (25-0, 21 KO), trained by Marc Ramsay, will also try to impress in front of the cameras of the ESPN network against the Australian Rohan Murdock (27-2, 19 KO ). The WBC Continental Americas super middleweight championship (168 lbs) will be at stake in this face-to-face.

Still on the undercard, Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Imam Khataev (5-0, 5 KO) will fight in his first 10-round clash against Texan Rodolfo Gomez Jr (14-7-3, 10 KO), while Turkish slugger Mehmet Unal (7-0, 6 KO) will face Italian of Romanian origin Dragan Lepei (22-6-2, 10 KO).

Rivière-du-Loup boxer Leila Beaudoin (10-1, 1 KO) will try to avenge her only career defeat against Mexican Elizabeth Chavez Espinoza (4-5-3, 1 KO), who defeated her in last May in Mexico.

Montrealer Christopher Guerrero (9-0, 5 KO) will try to maintain his perfect record against Mexican Sergio Garcia Herrera (7-3, 4 KO), while Frenchman Moreno Fendero (2-0, 1 KO) will do the same against the Mexican Victor Hugo Flores (7-2, 3 KO).

As the curtain rises, young prospect Wilkens Mathieu (5-0, 3 KO) will be in action against a rival to be determined.

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