Beterbiev’s Punching Display Leaves Bradley Impressed and Predicting Another “Tough Fight” Against Bivol

By Michael Collins - 01/14/2024 - Comments

IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev’s punching display with his easy seventh-round technical knockout victory over Callum Smith last night in Quebec City left commentator Tim Bradley impressed with what he’d just seen, leaving him worried for  WBA champ Dmitry Bivol when he tangles with him next for the undisputed championship in Saudi Arabia.

Bradley says Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs) will need to “fight the perfect fight” to prevent Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KOs) from getting to him with his power shots, as he did against the former WBA super middleweight champion Smith (29-2, 21 KOs) at the Centre Videotron.

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Tim feels that it was “too easy” for Beterbiev to defeat Smith, who was coming off a 17-month layoff, which Bradley thinks played a part in his getting dominated.

Smith had looked almost as bad in his fights against Canelo Alvarez and John Ryder, so it shouldn’t have been a complete shock to Bradley that Beterbiev was able to quickly figure him out and dominate the way that he did.

The 33-year-old Smith has always been a one-dimensional fighter, with just a big left hook that he used to win fights, and virtually all of his 29 victories were against lesser opposition.

George Groves is the only fighter on Smith’s resume that stands out, but he was fighting with an injured shoulder from his fight against Chris Eubank Jr. seven months earlier in February 2018, and he wasn’t the fighter that he’d been before the injury.

Effortless Domination

“Clever stuff from him in there. It looked like he was working on things in there. It was too easy. World class opposition. He just makes it look too easy,” said Tim Bradley to Boxing News, discussing Artur Beterbiev’s seventh-round TKO win over Callum Smith last night in Quebec City, Canada.

Bradley liked the way that Beterbiev was able to win the fight without getting hurt or marked up by Smith, a guy known for his massive power in his left hook. However, Smith is like Deontay Wilder type of fighter, with just a weapon in his toolkit, and if you can neutralize that, he’s helpless.

Beterbiev and his training team obviously worked on taking away Smith’s left hook and limiting him to just his right hand, which couldn’t help him.

Smith did land his left hook occasionally, but mostly when he was under duress from Beterbiev and couldn’t lean into it the way that he needed to for him to score a one-punch KO as he’d done with many of his 21 knockouts.

Callum is too much like a Deontay and Ryan Garcia type of fighter with his overreliance on his left hook to win his fights, and he couldn’t use that simplistic, one-dimensional style against a talented fighter like Beterbiev or Canelo Alvarez.

Smith’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, did an admirable job of getting hit this far, capturing the WBA and Ring 168-lb title in 2018 off Groves. That was good match-making on Hearn’s part.

The Cost of Inactivity

“He didn’t take any damage at all. You’d expect against a taller fighter like that, a former world champion, he’d [Callum] be able to give a little bit more, but I tell these guys, ‘You got to stay active.’ Take less money just so you can stay active, and you can be sharp,” said Bradley.

Smith’s 17 months of inactivity had zero to do with his loss to Beterbiev last night. He would have lost to Beterbiev anyway because he’s too much Jeff ‘Left Hook’ Lacy and Donavan ‘Razor’ Ruddock, with his left hook being the only weapon in his arsenal to win. Smith’s right hand is like a vestigial feature, like the arms of a T-Rex.

“When opportunities come like this, you’re ready for them; seventeen months out of the ring [for Smith], come on, man,” said Bradley. “Artur Beterbiev that’s a real champion. He’s disciplined and devoted to his religion. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke, he takes care of himself.

The Bivol Challenge

“When you preserve your body like that, you can last long in the sport. A tough fight, 50-50,” said Bradley on the Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol undisputed clash, which is expected to take place next.

“I’ve always said, ‘Bivol,’ but listen, Bivol is going to have to fight a perfect fight in order to keep up off of him. Good work,” said Bradley.