Artur Beterbiev vs Callum Smith, this Saturday. Light heavyweight boxing returns, At Centre Videotron, Quebec City, Canada, as Unified Champion Artur Beterbiev will be looking to continue his reign against challenger Callum Smith.
Artur Beterbiev 38 (19-0, 19KOs) will be defending his unified IBF, WBC and WBO light heavyweight world champions in his adopted country of Canada.
Beterbiev will be looking to maintain his 100% KO streak and book himself an undisputed matchup with fellow countryman Dmitry Bivol.
However, in his way to one of boxing's dream matchups is Liverpudlian banger Callum Smith, 33 (29-1, 21 KOs).
As boxing has shown recently, do not bank on the favourite winning as upsets have come thick and fast last year.
Beterbiev won't be taking his new challenger lightly, he will be keen to demonstrate why he is the Chechen monster with boxing's most formidable power.
Callum Smith on the other hand will be keen to demonstrate his own power and upset the applecart on his way to becoming a two-weight world champion.
The fight will be shown on ESPN in the US, and Sky Sports for the UK fight fans.
Both fighters will want to look good in this contest as the winner will likely receive an undisputed fight with WBA supremo Dimitry Bivol.
It's no secret that boxing fans across the world want the two Russians to collide as they are seen as the two best fighters in the division.
But this is boxing and it's not out of the realm of possibility Smith could spring an upset and emerge as the unified king of the 175lb division.
Will father time catch up to Beterbiev at 38 and prove to be his undoing? Or will Smith find out he is just a level below the best?
Artur Beterbiev Resume Check
Despite having only 19 professional bouts, the Russian has built an impressive CV.
In his 6th pro fight, he would demolish former IBF light heavyweight world champion Tavoris Cloud by second-round KO.
Following the Cloud fight he would reel off five consecutive victories before beating Enrico Koeling by 12th-round knockout to win the vacant IBF Light heavyweight title.
Beterbiev made two successful title defences defeating the previously unbeaten Callum Johnson via 4th round KO having been dropped himself in the 2nd round, and a 5th round shellacking of Radivoje Kalajdzic.
The Russian stepped up in class for his first unification fight with WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
He would claim the WBC title via a tenth-round knockout.
He then rattled off two more victories against Adam Deines (won via 10TKO) and Marcus Browne (via 9KO).
This would lead to his second unification fight against WBO champ and Long Island native Joe Smith Jr. Smith Jr, notorious for being the only man to knock out the legendary Bernard Hopkins.
This was a highly anticipated contest between two of the best and biggest punchers in the division. Ultimately it turned out to be a two-round blowout with Beterbiev demolishing his American rival and adding the WBO strap to his collection following three heavy knockdowns.
Beterbiev's last fight came almost a year ago against Londoner Anthony Yarde.
Yarde put up a spirited fight having some good moments against the champion before being dropped in the 8th round. He was saved from further punishment as his corner threw in the towel.
Was Beterbiev slowing down? Maybe.
Regardless of how the fight went, he was still the technically masterful power puncher who knows how to switch a fighter's lights off at a moment's notice.
Callum Smith Resume Check
Callum Smith from Liverpool is widely known as a part of British boxing's most famous fighting families, alongside former world title challengers Stephan and Paul and ex-WBO Light middleweight champion Liam.
Smith raced through the pro ranks attaining a 22-0 (15KOs) beating all opposition put in front of him including fellow scouser Rocky Fielding, dismantling him with a vicious first round knockout, before getting his maiden title shot for the vacant WBC diamond belt against Sweden’s Erik Skoglund. He would win via unanimous decision.
Smith would make one successful title defence against Nieky Holzken before coming to blows with fellow Brit and WBA Super middleweight world champion George Groves.
Smith would knock out Groves in the sixth round, not only winning the WBA championship he would also claim the ring magazine title and the Muhammed Ali trophy.
Despite the win, Groves was coming off a semi-final win over Chris Eubank Jr dislocating his shoulder in the final round. This wasn’t the best version of Groves but scored a victory over a big name for the first time in his career.
After a title defence against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, he would meet another British rival in the form of John Ryder at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
Smith would prevail by unanimous decision in an unconvincing and slightly controversial decision with many including myself feeling that Ryder had done enough to win the fight against the hometown favourite.
After Ryder, Smith would challenge the best fighter in the division, WBC Champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alverez.
Despite some early success and flurries, he was thoroughly outclassed by the Mexican who barely broke a sweat as he pummelled and mauled Smith around the ring, proving he was levels above his British challenger.
Following his first career loss, Smith has rebuilt, with two brutal knockouts since moving up to light heavyweight, beating Gilbert Castillo Rivera and Mathieu Bauderlique.
Smith looks big and strong in what seems his more natural weight class, carrying knockout power.
Is Smith catching Beterbiev at the right time?
Smith will be the bigger man on the night as he holds a 3-inch height advantage and 5-inch reach advantage over the champion.
Smith is also five years younger than Beterbiev, will age be a defining factor in the fight?
Despite the physical disadvantages to Smith, Beterbiev carries a 100% ko ratio coming into this fight but what Smith can’t overlook is how technically skilled Beterbiev is.
He is more than just a big puncher; he has a great jab and great fundamentals which often gets underappreciated compared to his concussive punch power.
Beterbiev is a massive favourite coming into this fight, which is evident by his odds at victory coming at ¼ compared to the challenger Smith being priced at 3/1.
The betting market gives Beterbiev a 76.19% chance of winning compared to the 23.81% favouring the challenger.
It's hard to tell how this fight is going to go due to numerous factors mentioned but I believe Beterbiev will come through this fight and move on to the undisputed clash with Dimitry Bivol for all the marbles. That would give us one of the most exciting fights that can be made in 2024–but let’s see how it plays out Saturday.