By Frank Warren
OPPORTUNITY WILL KNOCK for our man Callum Johnson on January 15 when he will cross the Atlantic to take on Joe Smith jr for the WBO world title at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York
While the fight hasn’t quite been officially rubber-stamped and put to poster just yet, Bob Arum has been happily confirming the fight, so I am not letting any cats out of the bag.
It is a big chance for Callum to seize the title and then fight it out amongst the other UK light heavies with a huge prize on the line.
When we linked up again with Callum we pledged to keep him busy and get him another world title shot, so I am delighted we have been able to deliver just two fights into our reunion.
Every light heavyweight contender seems to have been calling for the Joe Smith jr fight, but it is Callum who has got the shot and, if successful, it will cook up the perfect storm for us with Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde doing battle for the WBO No.1 spot in their big rematch at London’s Copper Box on December 4.
You don’t need to be Mystic Meg to predict that we will be intending to put the winner of this in with Callum for another big domestic dust-up if he overcomes Smith jr.
As I alluded to above, the clutch of light heavyweight contenders fancy their chances against Smith jr, moreso than against the Russian pair of champs in Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev.
This being said, Smith jr should not be underestimated and there is a lot to like about him. He can punch and has got the heart of a lion – two qualities he shares with Callum.
Since being drafted in to give Bernard Hopkins a send-off into retirement and ultimately knocking him out of the ring, Smith jr has seized his moment and is recognised as one of the most popular champions in the world.
Defeating the great Hopkins propelled him into the big time and he has since fought for three world titles, striking lucky in his third with a hard-fought shootout against Maxim Vlasov.
I believe the original thinking was to put him in with Beterbiev for a unification, but this hasn’t come to pass and this was an opening we were quick to pounce on for Callum.
It has got all the makings of a terrific fight that you wouldn’t imagine will be overly tactical. Callum already has a solid reputation in the US for his performance against Beterbiev and the subsequent knockout of Sean Monaghan so the American fans know what they are getting.
It will also be a fantastic way to kick off the boxing year on BT Sport and a win for Callum will see to it that the light heavyweights will play a big part in 2022.
ANOTHER WHO WILL be right back in the thick of it in early 2022 is the world’s No.1 heavyweight, Tyson Fury.
There has been a whirl of speculation over Tyson’s next move since the WBC Convention last week and what we can confirm is that Tyson, in accordance with his wishes, will be back in the ring by late February or early March.
Due to the legal wranglings involving Dillian Whyte, Tyson does not have a mandatory call to answer and is free to proceed with a defence of his belt and it is a fight I would like to stage in the UK, with the home fans overdue a big Tyson fight.
Myself and Bob Arum, his US promoter, are already working behind the scenes to put everything in place for Tyson, who wants to be an active champion after prolonged spells on the sidelines.
We will be sure to deliver for him and the fans can look forward to a bumper beginning to 2022.