Thursday, January 11, 2024

Beterbiev-Smith: The First Major World Championship Clash Of 2024

The first major world championship fight of 2024 will take place on Saturday, January 13th in the 175lb. Light-Heavyweight division as undefeated Unified WBC/WBO/IBF Light-Heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev will defend his crown against former WBA Super-Middleweight world champion Callum Smith. The fight, which will take place at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada and can be seen here in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ will finally bring to fruition a fight that was originally supposed to take place in August 2023, but was delayed due to the champion needing additional time to recover from dental surgery. It is also a bout that could lead to some significant business in the division later in the year. 

This fight will represent Beterbiev’s eighth defense of his title, which originally began with the IBF world championship before he added the WBC and WBO crowns during his reign. Although Beterbiev has been inactive for nearly one year by the time this fight will take place, he still holds the distinction of being one of the sport’s feared knockout artists having knocked out all nineteen of his previous opponents. In his last title defense, Beterbiev stopped Anthony Yarde in eight rounds in a fight where the champion suffered a deep cut over his left eye in the fifth round. 

Now the champion prepares to get back to business by facing a fighter with significant momentum in Callum Smith. Smith, who gained notoriety for winning the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) Super-Middleweight tournament in 2018 and along with it, the WBA Super-Middleweight world championship, held onto the title until December 2020 when he lost a twelve round unanimous decision to Saul “Canelo" Alvarez. Following what is to date the only loss of his career, Smith moved up to the Light-Heavyweight division and will enter this fight coming off two knockout wins and is the current WBC number one Light-Heavyweight contender. 

What this fight will boil down to in my eyes will be whether or not Smith will be able to dictate the pace of the combat and do so for however long the fight lasts. Although Smith has shown punching power throughout his career and is capable of getting an opponent out of there should an opportunity arise, most likely see his best chance in this fight as trying to box Beterbiev, who only knows one direction, forward with constant pressure as he looks to break his opponent down. Whether or not the champion will be able to do that against a tall and lengthy opponent like Smith remains to be seen.

The element that looms over this fight is at least the possibility that the winner of it could be in line to face undefeated unified WBA/IBO world champion Dmitry Bivol for what would be the Undisputed Light-Heavyweight championship of the world. Bivol recently added the International Boxing Organization (IBO) championship to his collection by scoring a dominant twelve round unanimous decision over Lyndon Arthur on December 23rd in Saudi Arabia. A fight between Bivol and Beterbiev has been seemingly alluded to for the last couple of years, but this observer should not have to explain to the reader that even as illogical as the sport of Boxing in various aspects tends to be, nothing is a sure thing and Callum Smith should be viewed as a dangerous opponent rather than a formality for Beterbiev on the way to what would be an obvious lucrative payday and a career-defining fight for both Beterbiev and Bivol. One truly never knows what can happen when two fighters enter the ring to do battle. It is truly what makes Boxing great.

“And That's The Boxing Truth." 

Beterbiev vs. Smith takes place on Saturday, January 13th at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada. In the United States, the fight as well as it's full undercard can be seen on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 5:25PM ET/2:25PM PT.

(*Card and Start Time Subject to Change.*)

ESPN+ is available through the ESPN app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/Smart TVs. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, and to subscribe please visit:

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