Beterbiev vs. Smith: Age and Inactivity

By Chris Carlson - 01/12/2024 - Comments

When Artur Beterbiev and Callum Smith meet in the ring on Saturday, age, and inactivity will play a major role in the outcome. Artur is 38 years old and hasn’t stepped through the ropes in almost a year. Callum Smith is no spring chicken, having turned pro in 2012, and also hasn’t fought since the summer of 2022. On top of that, Callum has just two bouts since his loss to Canelo Alvarez all the way back in late 2020.

Style-wise, Callum will be fighting from the outside. Facing a heavy-handed puncher like Beterviev, Smith will need to be as sharp as a knife with an obsidian blade, which doesn’t bode well with needing to get the rust off during the fight. This main event, along with the rest of the card, will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Last January, Anthony Yarde’s performance against Artur Beterbiev was admirable. Both men landed their share of bombs, especially with the right hand, which eventually halted the action in the 8th round. Beterbiev has only fought four times since dispatching Oleksandr Gvozdyk in a great two-way battle. Beterbiev is an aggressive boxer, to say the least, and he does get hit plenty on his way inside in an attempt to land a power punch to close the show. Can Callum Smith stay out of range on the outside while scoring enough points to win rounds on the judge’s scorecards?

When answering that question, we can’t just assume that simply landing a jab or 1-2 would be enough to win this fight. Sure, Callum can win rounds, but the important part of landing on Beterbiev is gaining his respect. In all honesty, Gvozdyk was looking very accurate, landing double-digit punches in all but one of the first six rounds. In the last four rounds, he landed double digits just one time before getting stopped.

Let’s start with the 5-inch reach advantage for Callum Smith. Using that length with an active jab while landing enough power shots will be a must for Smith. Callum can’t fall in love with combinations, especially 3 or 4 punches in a row, which would leave him susceptible to more incoming damage. Smith is very good at punching with his opponent, but a catch-and-shoot strategy plays into Beterbiev’s hands. Back to those 2-punch combos, Callum does a good job of mixing them up. At times, it is a lead right-left hook, while other combos feature a left hook-right uppercut.

Smith is a good body puncher, but you don’t generally see the taller boxer going downstairs all that much, let alone versus a thudding puncher. Even before the loss to Canelo, Jon Ryder set a blueprint by using aggression to consistently back Smith on the ropes. Callum has a bad habit of shelling up and leaning on the ropes or in the corner rather than tying up or finding the exit to escape. Ryder also fights in a similar pattern as Artur by changing levels when attacking. It will be up to Callum to identify Beterbiev dropping levels before letting loose with homerun hitters as a tell and timing him at that moment, which is easier said than done, obviously.

While raging forward, Artur has an underrated jab and short, compact, powerful punches. Beterbiev is craftier than giving credit for, not just a caveman like some claim. For example, the way he turns his jab into a left hook is proof he’s skillful. As previously mentioned, he can be hit with the same punch repeatedly, but to be fair, so can Callum Smith. At some point in his career, Artur will fall off the cliff and get old overnight, as the old saying goes. This boxing podcaster believes that’s the only way Callum Smith will win this fight.

My Official Prediction is Artur Beterbiev by late stoppage.

Written by Chris Carlson, Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

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