Beterbiev’s Game: Can Smith Crack It With Brains, Not Power?

By Jeff Sorby - 01/12/2024 - Comments

Paulie Malignaggi believes that the style that Callum Smith could give him his best chance of solving the Artur Beterbiev puzzle on Saturday night would be to box him, not brawl, because that approach has failed repeatedly.

Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) will have to make a complete change of his fighting style for him to have success boxing Beterbiev because he’s always been a slugger from day one.

What Smith calls boxing is shelling up against the ropes and looking to land an odd counter here and there. If he uses that style against Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs), he won’t last long on Saturday night in their 12 round headliner at the Centre Videotron in Quebec City.

The Kamikaze Style

“He’s out-boxable, but it’s hard to get his respect boxing him like that went kamikaze style like Callum Johnson and Anthony Yarde, they had their success as well,” said Paulie Malignaggi to ProBox TV, talking about fighters that had some degrees of success against Artur Beterbiev before he knocked them out.

“Callum actually had him down. But, of course, when you’re coming in kamikaze style, you are committing suicide as well. You do damage, but it’s at your own undoing against a guy with the punching power of Beterbiev.

Outboxing the Beast

“I find that both had success against Beterbiev, but ultimately, no one had success at the end of the night, which was to win the fight,” said Malignaggi. “Could it be that boxing is the way out because Beterbiev is a little bit older? It’s been four or five years ago.”

Smith would have a chance of outboxing Beterbiev if he wasn’t so slow and lead-footed with his movement. Callum moves like Frankenstein in the ring, and he doesn’t have a great jab, which is what he would need to be able to outbox Beterbiev for any length of time.

“Just outboxing Beterbiev long enough, is he going to be able to stay in that mental pressure long enough with his ability to stress you, tire you out, and make that sand seem like it’s running out of that hourglass and get to you or is he going to be able to make you feel like you’re working so much harder and get to you,” said Malignaggi.

There are some fighters in the light heavyweight division that could have success boxing Beterbiev, but Smith isn’t one of them, and he’d be a fool to try. With Smith’s trainer, Buddy McGirt, talking about wanting to get respect, it sounds they plan on mixing it up with him.

“Callum Smith has more power than guys like Yarde. Do you go at Beterbiev, attack him, try to back him up, and hit him with the big right hand that he knocked Castillo out with?” said Malignaggi.

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