This weekend in Saudi Arabia, as part of the Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua II undercard, Callum Smith (pictured) fights Mathieu Bauderlique in a twelve-round light heavywight contest. The bout will be a WBC eliminator, but the path to a title shot remains uncertain, even for the winner. Artur Beterbiev holds the WBC, WBO and IBF championships and therefore has less pressure to honor a mandatory defense requirement. The IBF is queueing up its own eliminator, Jean Pascal vs. Joshua Buatsi, while Beterbiev also may be tempted to unify vs. WBA champion Dmitriy Bivol. Smoith is 28-1, a former super middleweight champion whose only loss came against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Bauderlique, from France, is 2016 Oympian with a 27-3 record that includes nine World Series of Boxing professional bouts. He has not lost since 2017. Here is what Smith and Bauderliquie had to say at the final press conference this week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
“It’s must-win. I think every fight is must-win at this stage in your career. I’m in a busy division, a packed division where there’s a lot of fighters waiting for a shot at the World Title. A loss here puts me at the back of the queue – and it’s a very big queue to go to the back of. A win here puts me at the front of the queue, it puts me next in line to fight for the World Title. That’s the goal. I’ve been there before down at 168 and I believe I’m good enough to do it at 175. It’s a must-win and I’m excited, it’s a big show and a big platform to perform on. Hopefully I can get the business done and move onto a World Title. It’s been good to be here and good to get back here. Obviously I’ve got the best memories from being here, becoming a World Champion. There’s a good buzz around the place this time round. Obviously it’s a great main event but I’m here to do a job and that’s win. I left here last time as a World Champion. I believe I’ll leave here this time ready to fight for a new one.”
“First of all I am sorry that I do not speak English, but I am honoured to be here to fight on such a prestigious card. I’ll be able to show all of my skills in front of a big stage. I am a warrior first and foremost. It’s in my DNA. I’m always here to win and I’m ready for a good fight.”