By Brian Webber: Callum Smith will be headlining next month against unbeaten light heavyweight fringe contender Pawel Stepien in a 12 round fight on DAZN in a Matchroom Boxing promoted card on March 11th at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.
The 32-year-old former WBA super middleweight champion Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) must come through this fight victorious to challenge IBF, WBC & WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in the summer.
Poland’s Stepien (18-0-1, 12 KOs) is ranked #7 IBF, #13 WBA & #15 WBO at 175. Regarding name opponents on the 32-year-old Stepien’s eight-year resume, these are the only notable names: Dmitry Sukhotskiy & Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna.
For boxing fans that tuned in recently for the Artur Beterbiev vs. Anthony Yarde card on January 28th at the Wembley Arena in London, they saw Maderna stop the highly touted light heavyweight prospect Karol Itauma in the fifth round.
So for Stepien to have beaten Maderna by an eight round majority decision last year in March, that says a lot about his talent.
Callum just needs to make sure he doesn’t have any slip-ups against Stepien for him to stay in line for his title shot against Beterbiev in the summer.
Many boxing fans are grumbling about the choice of opponent for Callum, saying that this is another example of him being matched against an unknown fighter since he moved up to 175 in 2021.
For the record, Smith has fought twice since moving up to light heavyweight three years ago, beating the capable Lenin Castillo and Mathieu Bauderlique to speedily earn the WBC mandatory spot to get a title shot against IBF/WBC/WBO 175-lb champion Artur Beterbiev.
Whether fans feel that Smith hasn’t earned the title shot against Beterbiev doesn’t matter. What’s done is done. Smith is the WBC mandatory to Beterbiev, and he will get a title shot in the summer.
The only thing that you can say is that Callum’s preparation for the Beterbiev fight won’t be ideal, and he’ll be taking a massive step up in class when he gets inside the ring with the unbeaten champion.
You can’t blame Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn for the WBC choosing to sanction the Smith vs. Bauderlique fight as a title eliminator.
- Liam Paro vs. Robbie Davies Jr
- Diego Pacheco vs. Jack Cullen
- Mickey Ellison vs. Thomas Whittaker Hart
- Campbell Hatton vs. TBA
- Johnny Fisher vs. TBA
- Rhiannon Dixon vs. Vicky Wilkinson
- Aquib Fiaz vs. TBA
- Paddy Lacey vs. TBA
The undercard for Smith vs. Stepien is packed, with Liam Paro fighting Robbie Davies Jr and Diego Pacheco facing Jack Cullen.
Callum Smith preparing for title shot
“This is a fantastic card in Liverpool. I can’t wait,” said Eddie Hearn to Matchroom Boxing. “Callum Smith, who is simply waiting now for Artur Beterbiev. “Obviously, a great win for him [Beterbiev against Anthony Yarde]. He’ll now take part in Ramadan, and we’ll be ready for the summer.
“The WBC allowing Callum Smith to have this fight against Pawel Stepien. Stepien is, I believe, number 14 in the world, 7 in the world, and 13 in the world. He’s world ranked in every governing body and very, very dangerous and unbeaten as well.
“For Callum Smith, it’s about getting out and looking good and coming out unscathed in that fight to prepare himself for a monster fight against Artur Beterbiev in the summer.
“For me, two fights I can’t wait for on this card that I can’t wait for is Liam Paro against Robbie Davies Jr. Shout out for Liam Paro. He’s sitting right in line for a shot at the WBO [light welterweight] world title against the winner of [Jack] Catterall against Joshua Taylor.
“He [Paro] just knocked out Brock Jarvis in Brisbane. He comes to Robbie Davis’ backyard. Robbie Davis has a shot at absolutely nothing to put himself in position for a world title shot, and he’s been super patient waiting for the right fight and the big fight, and it’s landed right on his lap. It’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere that night Liam Paro against Robbie Davis Jr.” said Hearn.