It was all change for WBC super-middleweight title contender Callum Smith on Saturday night following the entertaining draw between champion Badou Jack and British rival James DeGale.
Not only did Jack and DeGale end a draw in New York as Smith watched from ringside, but the current green and gold belt holder then announced his intention to leave 168 pounds behind for an immediate run at light-heavyweight.
Smith has now gone from knowing who could be in the opposite corner from a 50-50 choice, to potentially having one of a number of foes facing him as the Merseysider prepares himself for a long-delayed spring world title shot.
With Jack off the table, WBN ranks those opponents from the most likely to become reality for Smith in the coming months:
1. Anthony Dirrell – Sitting at number two behind Smith in the ratings, the American could be persuaded to travel to the UK by promoter Eddie Hearn should the offer be sufficient enough. Failing that, Smith may well be open to a return to U.S shores having made his debut there back in 2014.
2. James DeGale – Hearn could put in a request for the WBC to consider a unification between the Britons, although DeGale may want to take some time out to recover from what was a bruising battle with Jack. The two-belt battle would then remain on the table should Smith claim champion status in a vacant battle with Dirrell.
3. Avni Yildrim – Ranked three behind Smith and Dirrell, the Turkish star could be considered the most likely to accept a fight in the UK.
4. Zac Dunn – The Australian is rated at five by the WBC and would jump at the chance to oppose Smith for the vacant strap.
5. Martin Murray – The St. Helens man may be urged by Hearn to have one more fight at 168 before moving back down, especially for an all-UK world title fight against Smith.
The WBC have ordered negotiations between Jack and Smith with a purse bid set for February 17, although the move is basically to speed along a formal decision from Mayweather Promotions on the title becoming vacant.
A u-turn by Jack is not envisaged at any point in the future, whilst DeGale would have valid claims to another fight should the US-based Swede decide to change his mind.