27-year-old super middleweight contender Callum Smith (22-0, 17 KOs) has decided to enter the upcoming World Boxing Super Series instead of pursuing his mandatory WBC title shot, ESPN reports.
Smith marks the fifth entrant to sign up for the super middleweight tourney, joining George Groves (26-3, 19 KOs), Jamie Cox (23-0, 12 KOs), Juergen Braehmer (48-3, 35 KOs), and Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12 KOs).
Smith had previously been signed up to take on Anthony Dirrell for Badou Jack’s vacated WBC title on September 9 in Los Angeles, but Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn claims that Dirrell breached their contract by trying to move the fight to a different date in his hometown of Flint, MI.
Organizers are said to have attempted to get Dirrell to join the tournament as well, but he supposedly declined. So now Callum Smith will be vying for one of those new WBC diamond belts as opposed to fighting for a real world title.
"I am thrilled to participate in the World Boxing Super Series, the Champions League of boxing," Smith said in the news release. "What an honor it will be to fight for the WBC diamond championship in the quarterfinal. But there is so much more at stake than just one belt -- the Muhammad Ali Trophy as well as a potential domestic showdown with George Groves in the final.
"This tournament is very exciting for boxing, and I am thrilled to be a part of it. I look forward to travelling to Monaco for the draft gala on Saturday and find out who my opponent will be."
Sources with knowledge on the situation say the final three participants in the super middleweight field are expected to be filled by Rob Brant (22-0, 15 KOs), Avni Yildirim (16-0, 10 KOs), and the winner between Chris Eubank Jr. (24-1, 19 KOs) and Arthur Abraham (46-5, 30 KOs). A formal announcement is expected to happen sometime tomorrow.