Former WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith believes he’s got the goods to dethrone IBF, WBC & WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in August in Quebec.
Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) feels that Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) showed in his last fight against Anthony Yarde that he can be hit, and he thinks that if he can land enough big shots on the champion, he can knock him out.
The 33-year-old Smith hasn’t had a lot of quality preparation for this fight since moving up to light heavyweight in 2021. His only two fights at 175 came against Mathieu Bauderlique and Lenin Castillo, both of which he knocked out.
It would have been more beneficial for Smith if he’d fought one or two tough contenders to better prepare him for what he’s going up against when he takes on Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) this summer.
Smith will need to stay off the ropes for him to have a shot at beating Beterbiev because he’ll be destroyed if he fights him like he did Canelo Alvarez and John Ryder.
Beterbiev vs. Smith in August
“In August time. Hopefully, I get some confirmation soon. It’s a good fight and one that excites me,” said Callum Smith to Behind The Gloves about his title clash against Beterbiev.
“He has, and you got to give him credit for that. He’s won three belts and knocked everyone out in doing so,” said Callum about Beterbiev. “He’s not invincible, and I’ve got a very good coach [Buddy McGirt] and a very good game plan.
“I feel like defensively, I’m pretty solid myself. You just got to be smart when you’re in there. You can’t mix fire with fire. You got to be smart for when you do attack, and I’m very confident that I’ve got the skills, the ability, and the game plan to go in there and take his three belts off of him and move on and move forward.
“I’ve got the size to do it, but at the minute, I have no intention of moving up to cruiserweight. I’m a light heavyweight, and I believe I’m a big solid light heavyweight. The goal is to become world champion at light heavyweight, which I’ve got.
“What the future holds, we’ll have to wait and see, but at the minute, my full aim is at 175. I believe that weight suits me better than any other weight and I believe you’ll see the best of me at this weight,” said Smith.
Beterbiev not invincible
“It’s a good one. He’s still undefeated and still has his three belts, and he has knocked out every man he’s ever faced,” said Callum about Beterbiev. “He’s a very good champion that I have a lot of respect for, but he’s not invincible.
“He can be hurt himself, and he can be hit. I think we saw it in the [Anthony] Yarde fight. He’s not going to go on forever. He’s there to be beaten. Someone will beat him at some point, and I believe it’ll be me.
“I think you take bits from every fight, win or lose. I think losing makes you sit back at why you lost and lets you learn a little bit more. I learned a lot about myself in that fight, and I made a lot of changes after that fight,” said Callum about his loss to Canelo Alvarez in 2020.
“I feel like I’m a better fighter since then, especially since moving up to 175. I feel a lot better about myself. I changed my training team with Buddy McGirt, and I’m improving all the time,” said Smith.
Callum with big opportunity
“I feel like I’m at my very best that I’ve ever been, and if I can’t become world champion now, then I’ll probably never be,” said Callum. “I believe I can become a two-weight world champion, and I have my opportunity now. It’s up to me to deliver.
“He’s a very good fighter. I’ve known it for a long time. I came across him in the amateurs,” said Callum about WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. “He’s very good at what he does, and sometimes I watch him, and it doesn’t look like he’s doing a lot.
“When you’re in with him, he’s very, very effective and hard to beat, which Canelo found out in that fight [last year]. It’ll be interesting if the fight does happen again, and it’ll be at 175. It’ll be interesting to see what Canelo can do differently. We have to wait and see.
“It’s going to be a good fight. Bivol is very hard to beat, and he’s good at what he does. I think he plateaued out performance-wise and the Canelo fight, and I thought he boxed very well against Gilberto Ramirez as well.
“So, he seems to have found another gear and improved. I think he may be tougher to beat this time than he was last time.
“It’s a tough one because they’re very, very different,” said Smith when asked who is better between Bivol and Beterbiev. “Bivol doesn’t have the power that Beterbiev has got, but he’s a little bit harder to hit.
“He has better footwork and is more of a thinking fighter, whereas when you’re in with Beterbiev, he has a lot more power. I think they’re both very tough fighters but in different aspects.
Beterbiev #1 at 175
“It’s kind of what you prefer to go up against. I’d probably have Beterbieev #1 and Bivol #2, but I know a lot of people probably have Bivol #1 and Beterbiev #2 at the minute,” said Smith.
“It’s the unfortunate side of boxing. A lot goes into it with the politics. It’s not as easy as some people think, but hopefully, they can come to some sort of agreement, and we can see the fight, whether at 168 or 175,” said Smith about the rematch between Bivol and Canelo.
“They’re two very good fighters, and I would like to see it again. If I win my next fight, I’ll be in the pole position to have a rematch [with Canelo]. I’d love the chance to do it again, especially at 175.
“I’ve got no excuses from the first fight. He beat me fair and square, and he beat me well, but at 175, you’ll see a different version of him and a different version of me. That’s in the future. I’ve got a tough task at hand and I fully believe I’m capable of getting the win.
Callum unfazed by traveling
“The minute you lose the purse bid, you kind of lose all control, and it’s up to them [Top Rank] where they want to put it on,” said Callum Smith to Boxing Social about Beterbiev.
“It’s not surprising; I’ve got no problems traveling. I’ve boxed in the States a few times, I’ve boxed in Saudi a couple of times, Germany, it doesn’t faze me.”
“It’s a fight I’ve wanted, a fight I’ve become mandatory for. I definitely believe I will win,” said Callum.