Callum Smith Faces a Daunting Task: Can He Outsmart the Experienced Beterbiev Tonight?

By Tim Compton - 01/13/2024 - Comments

Chris Algieri says WBC mandatory Callum Smith is taking a step up in class tonight when he challenges the more experienced IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) on January 13th at the Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Canada.

Level of Competition: A Key Difference

Algieri notes that Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) has been busy with his career, but he’s been doing it against less talented opposition than Beterbiev.

Although the 33-year-old Smith did fight Canelo Alvarez and John Ryder, he was out of his element in both contests, losing to the Mexican star and getting gifted a win in his hometown against Ryder.

The lack of experience against world-level opposition could hurt Smith tonight because his sparring partner in this camp likely didn’t help him prepare for a fighter like Beterbiev unless he used cruiserweight to help him.

“Beterbiev hasn’t been that active, but he’s been fighting higher level competition than Callum Smith has. Callum Smith has been a little more active [two fights since 2020],” said Chris Algieri to ProBox TV.

Beterbiev has been the busier fighter over the last four years, not Smith. Artur has fought four times compared to Smith, who has fought just twice against lower-level opposition.

“He came in at 175 and fought two guys. They weren’t world-level elites, not like Beterbiev has been fighting guys. So, even though Beterbiev is a little bit older, it’s not the worst thing for his body.

“So, being out of the gym might not be the worst thing for him. To counter that with Smith. He’s had more time with Buddy McGirt, and they’ve been working on some things,” said Algieri.

Can Smith Rediscover His Boxing Prowess?

“Boxing from the outside, I haven’t seen him [Callum Smith] do that in a while. He did that really well against [Hassan] Ndam [in 2019],” said Algieri. “He did everything well. He boxed from the outside. He dropped Ndam six times but was able to keep his distance really well.”

The level of opposition that Smith has been fighting has enabled him to fight aggressively and not worry about using the movement. His promoter, Eddie Hearn, was fixing him up with beatable opposition like Hassan Ndam, Mathieu Bauderlique, and Lenin Castillo.

“I haven’t seen that from him since then. John Ryder, a much smaller guy than him, was able to come right in the front door. Beterbiev is a really good boxer,” said Algieri.

“He doesn’t get credit for because he punches so hard, but he’s a very good boxer, and he’s sneaky with the way he closes the distance, even with taller guys,” said Algieri about Beterbiev.

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