LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 28: Artur Beterbiev celebrates after defeating Anthony Yarde, during their WBC,IBF and WBO light heavyweight Championship fight, at OVO Arena Wembley on January 28, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Robison/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
It was announced at press conference today that IBF, WBC and WBO light heavyweight titleholder Artur Beterbiev will defend his titles against former super middleweight titlist Callum Smith at the Centre Videotron, Quebec City, Canada on August 19.
The co-promotion between Top Rank and Eye of The Tiger will be broadcast on ESPN and also include a stellar undercard featuring heavyweight power-puncher Simon Kean and Ring rated super middleweight Christian Mbilli against as yet undetermined opposition.
Also scheduled to appear are touted super middleweight Wilkens Mathieu (2-0, 1 KO), the return of Clovis Drolet (13-1, 9 KOs) and up-and-coming light heavyweight Memhet Unal (4-0, 4 KOs). Female fighters Mary Spencer (7-1, 5 KOs) and Leila Beaudoin (9-1, 1 KO) round out the card.
Beterbiev (19-0, 19 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 2 ranked light heavyweight, was a standout amateur, winning gold at the 2009 World Championships and competing at the 2012 Olympics. The physically imposing Russian moved quickly as a professional. He won the IBF light heavyweight title, stopping Enrico Koelling (KO 12) and defended against Callum Johnson (KO 4) and Radivoje Kalajdzic (KO5). His breakout win came against then-WBC titleholder Oleksandr Gvozdyk (TKO 10) in a unification bout.
The 38-year-old marked time against Adam Deines (TKO 10) and Marcus Browne (KO 9) before demolishing WBO counterpart Joe Smith Jr. (TKO 2) and, most recently, engaged in a fan-friendly collision with Anthony Yarde (TKO 8).
Smith (29-1, 21 KOs), The Ring’s No. 3 ranked light heavyweight, won the British and European super middleweight titles in impressive fashion and got his big break in the WBSS. He defeated Erik Skoglund (UD 12) and late substitute Nieky Holzken (UD 12) to earn safe passage to the final where he stopped George Groves (KO 7) to become The Ring Magazine champion and WBA titleholder.
The Englishman struggled to capitalize on that momentum, easily defeating the undersized Hassan N’dam N’Jikam (TKO 3) and laboring against John Ryder (UD 12) in subsequent title defenses before losing to boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez (UD 12). The 33-year-old has since moved up to 175-pounds and won both outings and looks a real threat.
Kean (23-1, 22 KOs) is a two-time Canadian national amateur champion. He represented his country at the 2012 Olympics and produced an upset over Tony Yoka. Kean turned professional in 2015 and only one of his first 15 opponents heard the final bell.
However, in the fall of 2018, Kean came unstuck against Dillon Carman (KO 4). Following a comeback win, he gained revenge with a third-round stoppage. “Mr. Grizzly” has won six fights since, including a 10th-round stoppage over former WBO heavyweight titleholder Siarhei Liakhovich and against former two-time heavyweight title challenger Eric Molina (KO 7).
Mbilli (24-0, 20 KOs), The Ring’s No. 3 ranked super middleweight, represented France at the 2016 Olympics, losing to eventual gold medalist Arlen Lopez at the quarter-final stage.
He moved to Canada, and after taking the usual steps has started to work his way up the rankings impressively dominating Ronald Ellis (UD 10), scoring an eye-catching knockout over former world title challenger Nadjib Mohammedi (KO 5), blitzing DeAndre Ware (KO 2) and, most recently, engaged in a thrill a minute war with Carlos Gongora (UD 10).
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].