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Boxing: Brits well placed in light-heavyweight battleground

The British light-heavyweight scene is rocking and it could be a packed 2022 for fight fans.

Callum Johnson was due to be challenging Joe Smith Jr in New York this weekend, but the Boston-born boxer was forced to pull out of the fight. Smith is the WBO light-heavyweight champion and he will now defend his belt against Steve Geffrard.

The New Yorker beat Maxim Vlasov to claim the vacant title last April and Johnson was set for a crack at the newly-crowned champion.

Smith is 1/14 to successfully defend his belt, with Geffrard a 13/2 shot. The Long Islander is 1/5 to win by stoppage.

Geffrard lost his opening two bouts as a professional, but the Miami man has since gone on to notch 18 straight wins. However, they have come in low-key bouts and this is a major step up in class for the 31-year-old.

What's next for Johnson?

Johnson is hoping that the bout can be rescheduled for the spring, but the noises from the Smith camp aren’t all that positive.

The One is getting to the later stages of his career and there's no doubt he will be looking to land some big fights before the sun sets.

British light-heavyweight stars plan their paths

Callum Smith

The British light-heavyweight division isn't just stacked, it's full of world-level performers.

Former WBA super-middleweight champ Callum Smith has made the step up to the 175lbs division and Mundo probably sits at the top of the tree.

Smith has shown he can mix it and win titles at an elite-level and Mundo made a successful transition with a second-round knockout of Lenin Castillo.

It will be interesting to see what the Merseyside man can achieve in this division.

Anthony Yarde

Anthony Yarde came up short in his first crack at a world title when losing to Sergey Kovalev back in 2019 and a defeat to domestic rival Lyndon Arthur followed.

However, the Beast from the East gained his revenge over King Arthur in December and the future looks bright for the Hackney puncher.

Yarde will no doubt have his sights set on another crack at a world title in 2022 and a shot at Joe Smith Jr has been mentioned by his promoter Frank Warren.

Joshua Buatsi

Joshua Buatsi has built a huge reputation and the unbeaten Brit does look an extremely talented boxer.

The Croydon man may have eyes on a huge bout against Yarde, but it seems likely that the pair could clash when there are titles on the line later in their careers. Just Business made a major step up to take on Ricards Bolotniks last time out, and while it wasn't a completely smooth victory, it does go down as the best win on Buatsi's card.

Dmitry Bivol is the WBA champion, while Artur Beterbiev holds the WBA and IBF light-heavy belts and Buatsi seems to have his sights set on those champions. Speaking to the BBC, Buatsi made clear his targets.

"Personal responsibility is important to me," he said. "I don't map out a year. One goal that remains constant is to win. Just find a way to win. How does 2022 look? One of the aims is I want to win a world title.

"I can't say if it's going to be the first or second or third fight, but that year I want to win a world title. Hopefully that opportunity will come. I will give everything to take it."

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Best of the rest

Arthur will be hoping to get back into the mix, after defeat to Yarde, and he can certainly be a force at domestic level.

It's worth remembering that former WBA super-middleweight champion Rocky Fielding has only been beaten twice in his career.

Those defeats came against top-level performers Canelo Alvarez and Callum Smith. Fielding has made a successful return to the ring in the 175lbs division and it will be interesting to see what the Merseyside man has left to offer.

Craig Richards put up a good fight when challenging Dmitry Bivol for his WBA belt in April but Spider was unable to get the better of the Russian.

Richards has since won the WBA International light-heavy title and the Crystal Palace puncher will no doubt be targeting another world title shot. Spider immediately dropped his name into the ring to fight Smith Jr, when news of Johnson's withdrawal broke, and he has also spoken of wanting to take on Beterbiev.

There is certainly no shortage of top fights to be made, at both domestic and world level in the light-heavyweight division, and 2022 could deliver some cracking action.

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