Artur Beterbiev wanted to defend his three world titles in Quebec. Top Rank and Eye of the Tiger Management made his wish come true.
Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) will put his International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) light heavyweight belts on the line against the Liverpuldien Callum Smith (29-1, 21 K.-O.) on August 19, at the Videotron Center in Quebec.
According to Marc Ramsay, Smith represents the biggest challenge since the beginning of the career of Beterbiev, who is in Russia for a 21-day pre-camp at altitude.
“I’m not saying that to boost ticket sales,” Ramsay said during the conference call at the Videotron Center on Thursday.
“It’s complex and comprehensive,” he said later. He’s a complete boxer, six-foot-three, with a long reach, a great amateur career. Lots of skill, speed and power: he brings a lot to a boxing match. It’s a complex file, but it’s a challenge that’s fascinating for us.
“In my opinion, he’s the best of the light heavyweights. He has the qualities of Oleksandr Gvozdyk, whom Artur beat, but with a more developed physical side. »
Ramsay would obviously have liked his protege to face Dmitry Bivol for the World Boxing Association (WBA) belt, the only one missing from his collection, but it seems that the Bivol clan is doing everything to avoid Beterbiev.
“It would have been our number 1 option, but there weren’t really any negotiations, it seems closed on their side. So we turn to a mandatory defense. That’s what we’ve been doing for 10 years with Artur: we’re always either compulsory or unified. »
Smith, whose only loss came at the hands of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, is Beterbiev’s mandatory opponent in the WBC. He is also ranked second in the WBO and third in the IBF. The Englishman will return to the ring for the first time since his victory by K.-O. against Mathieu Bauderlique, last August.
For Beterbiev, it will be a first fight since his victory acquired by K.-O. against Anthony Yarde in England last January. Yarde was then leading on two of the judges’ three cards.
Heavy order for Kean
EOTTM promises a high card for the event. Simon Kean (32-1, 22 K.-O.) will pay the price for the semi-final against an opponent from the top 10 in the world. Camille Estephan, president of EOTTM, did not want to come forward on the identity of the boxer, because he is in final discussions with two adversaries. Swede Otto Wallin is one of them. The other is a Top Rank protege whom Estephan preferred not to name.
“It doesn’t matter the opponent, it’s a fight that will move Simon up the rankings, because both are well ranked,” assured Estephan. Wallin (25-1, 14 KOs), who suffered his only loss to Tyson Fury, is currently ranked eighth in the WBO rankings. He is also ranked ninth in the IBF and WBC.
Christian Mbilli (24-0, 20 KOs), Leïla Beaudoin (9-1, 1 KOs), Clovis Drolet (13-1, 9 KOs), as well as the new protege Eye of the Tiger Mehmet Nadir Unal (4-0, 4 K.-O.) will also be there. Their opponents will be revealed shortly.
As Mbilli is also a boxer from Ramsay, the trainer will entrust his corner to his assistants for this fight, a situation which he does not like.
“I’m only going to take care of Artur in this gala. I will split my team and Russ Anber and Samuel Décarie will take care of Christian and Mehmet.
“It increases the stress level. It’s not a situation I like, but the stakes and the scale of the fight mean that we can’t have our minds in 14 different places. It’s the kind of fight that’s won on the details, so all my attention will be on Artur that night. »
Chance for Quebec
Martin Tremblay, chief operating officer of the sports and entertainment division of Quebecor, pointed out that Quebec is making many people jealous by having obtained the organization of this gala, the first major gala in more than two years presented in the Old Capital.
“This gala could have taken place anywhere in the world,” he said. Every arena in England would have been packed to see Callum Smith. »
And not just them: Estephan ensures that several cities were in the running on this side of the Atlantic as well.
“New York wanted this fight; Las Vegas wanted this fight, he argued. It was because Artur asked to fight at home that Top Rank looked our way.
“We told them if they wanted to hire us to organize Artur fights, we were there. Our relationship with Top Rank — we have two boxers co-promoted with them — tipped the scales in our favor. »
Venerable Bob Arum’s group won the tender against Eddie Hearns and Matchroom by just US$15,000: Top Rank bet $2.015 million against the English’s $2 million.
The presence of Matchroom also ensures a British broadcaster for the event. ESPN will travel to Quebec with its entire team for the occasion, while in Quebec, the gala can also be followed on PunchingGrace.com.