Callum Smith would have sent shockwaves through the light heavyweight division on Saturday night.
Smith (28-1, 20 KOs) moved up to 175lbs after losing his unified super middleweight titles to Canelo Alvarez in December and responded in explosive style, blasting out Lenin Castillo in two rounds on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk’s victory over Anthony Joshua.
The Liverpool man was letting his hands go with speed and accuracy in the opener and finished proceedings in the second round in emphatic fashion.
The 31-year-old connected with a brutal right hand which sent Castillo crashing to the canvas, with his legs shaking from the impact.
There were worrying scenes, as the Dominican was lying on the canvas receiving medical attention for several minutes, before being taken out of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on a stretcher.
Fortunately, Castillo was conscious as he left the stadium and was taken to hospital for checks where he was later discharged.
“He was released after a few hours,” Castillo’s manager told Dan Rafael.
“They did a brain scan. Everything fine.”
I texted Lenin Castillo’s manager to see how Lenin was doing after the KO by Callum Smith. Here’s the response I received overnight: “He was released after a few hours. They did a brain scan. Everything fine. He’s at the airport now.” Good news. #boxing #JoshuaFury @EddieHearn
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) September 26, 2021
For Smith, it was a major statement in his first fight under new coach, Buddy McGirt after parting ways with long-time trainer, Joe Gallagher.
The former world title challenger had never previously been halted in three prior defeats, going the distance with the likes of Marcus Browne and current WBA titlist, Dmitry Bivol.
So, the question is who is next for Smith?
Smith told Pro Boxing Fans on Thursday he is looking to become a two-weight world champion as quickly as possible and Dmitry Bivol would represent that opportunity.
Bivol (18-0, 11 KOs) who was elevated from WBA ‘regular’ to WBA ‘super’ champion, has made two successful defences of the belt he owns against Castillo and most recently against Britain’s, Craig Richards in May.
The 30-year-old has an excellent resume having beaten the likes of former world champion, Jean Pascal and now-WBO titlist, Joe Smith Jr.
Bivol like ‘Mundo’ is signed with Matchroom and DAZN, meaning theoretically the fight should be easier to make.
The Brit though is not currently ranked in the WBA and could want another fight first at his new weight class prior to taking on the experienced champion.
A domestic clash with Joshua Buatsi would be an enticing affair.
Buatsi (15-0, 13 KOs) scored a career-best win last time out, stopping Ricards Bolotniks in eleven rounds at Fight Camp in August.
The 28-year-old is improving all the time under trainer, Virgil Hunter and is closing on a world title shot, ranked as the second rated contender in three of the four governing bodies.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said after Buatsi’s win over the Latvian he would target a return in either November or December in the USA, before a potential match-up with Bivol.
This would suggest that a meeting between the Londoner and the Liverpool native will likely wait and would undoubtedly be a bigger bout if there is a world title on the line, given the amount of interest that is already there with this fight.
With both men with the same promotional company and fighting on the same network, there appears to be nothing stopping this fight happening at some point, whether that’s next though remains to be seen.
Another interesting domestic fight could come against Craig Richards.
Richards (16-2-1, 9 KOs) more than proved his worth at world level with a spirited display against Bivol, falling short on a unanimous decision.
The 31-year-old’s performance was particularly impressive considering he had never competed beyond British level prior and will no doubt be better for the experience.
‘Spider’ still has a high ranking with the WBA, rated as the number four contender and could feasibly go down that route in search of another world title shot, or otherwise face Smith in an intriguing all-British clash.
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Again, a fight between them should be relatively simple to make with Richards aligned with Matchroom and DAZN.
An intriguing match-up could come against Gilberto Ramirez.
Like Smith, Ramirez (42-0, 28 KOs) moved up from super middleweight where he was a long-reigning WBO champion and has registered three wins at light heavyweight, including a fourth round knockout of Sullivan Barrera in July.
‘Zurdo’ is the number two ranked contender with the WBO and could wait his time for a world title opportunity, although Smith is ranked at #10 and the bout could be sanctioned as a world title eliminator.
The 30-year-old is signed to Golden Boy Promotions, who like Matchroom have an exclusive broadcast deal with DAZN, making a deal easier to make.