The IBF light heavyweight title fight between champion Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr., originally slated to take place on December 15th as part of the Canelo Alvarez-Rocky Fielding card, is off. Beterbiev has withdrawn, citing a lack of adequate preparation time since his October 6th victory over Callum Johnson, and intends to return to action in February.
In all honesty, it’s not a bad decision; as Yvon Michel states, Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KO) hit the deck against Johnson, and Smith (24-2, 20 KO) has a habit of catching people unawares. It’s just frustrating to have to wait even longer to see the painfully inactive Beterbiev in action again.
Smith’s promoter, Joe DeGuardia, says Smith could either face Beterbiev in February or potentially target the winner of Dmitry Bivol-Jean Pascal or Adonis Stevenson-Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
Disappointing as it is, this move does open the door for Tevin Farmer to get his wish and defend his title on that card. It won’t be against Jono Carroll, however, as the Irishman is booked for an eliminator against Guillaume Frenois in Sheffield on the 8th.