Artur Beterbiev Crushes A Game Callum Smith; Dmitry Bivol Next?

By James Slater - 01/14/2024 - Comments

Going into last night’s fight between reigning and defending three-belt light heavyweight champ Artur Beterbiev and challenger Callum Smith, some people felt the sufficient elements needed for an upset were swirling: Beterbiev’s age and inactivity, the fact that Beterbiev was coming off jaw surgery, and the possibility of Beterbiev perhaps looking past Smith, ahead to a massive fight with Dmitry Bivol.

Instead, there was no upset, not even a glimpse of one. Beterbiev went to work like he always does, with him looking to land power shots at every opportunity, with Beterbiev looking to take his man down. And once again the Russian tank got the job done, with a brave but outgunned Smith, now 29-2(21) finally falling in round seven, his face marked up, the fight completely and utterly knocked out of him after the suffering of two heavy knockdowns.

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Beterbiev retained his three belts, his 100 percent KO record, now standing at an amazing 20-0(20) – and Beterbiev kept all hope and desire for that unification showdown with countryman Bivol alive and well. And, as good as Bivol is, as special as he is as a boxer with a high ring IQ, it may take a brave fan to predict a Bivol win over Beterbiev.

Showing zero signs of slowing down, Beterbiev, who will turn 39 on January 21st, looked great last night. Maybe Smith’s somewhat perplexing willingness to try to stand and trade had something to do with it, but Beterbiev looked a heck of a lot better than he did last time out, when he struggled, at least a little, against another British warrior in Anthony Yarde. But Beterbiev was a joy to watch last night, for all fans who love to see slow, assured destruction, anyway.

Bivol is a far more accomplished boxer than both Smith and Beterbiev, and this one will prove to be an altogether different fight to what we witnessed last night in Quebec, Canada. And the fight, when it happens (as it surely win, with both fighters wanting it, this almost always the biggest hurdle to jump when it comes to the making of a fight), Beterbiev will face perhaps his biggest challenge, against the best, most talented fighter he will ever face in the ring. But again, are you brave enough to bet against Beterbiev not passing the test? Beterbiev – the only active world champion with a 100 precent KO record – possesses the right blend of frightening power and sheer physical strength to see him to victory over fighters who have better boxing skills than him, and it could indeed happen again when he and Bivol get it on.

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Beterbiev wants the fight, badly.

“Yes, of course,” a victorious Beterbiev said after doing away with Smith. “I need a fourth belt. It would mean a lot to me. It’s the top. It would mean in this category I have done work.”

Bob Arum says the fight is “not done yet, but it’s close.”

As such, Beterbiev may be close to holding all four belts at 175 pounds. Bivol will present Beterbiev with his hardest, trickiest fight yet, on paper, at least. But with Beterbiev we may be looking at a fighter who is destined never to lose a single fight.