Malignaggi Decodes Beterbiev’s Tactical Masterclass Against Smith

By Rob Smith - 01/18/2024 - Comments

Paulie Malignaggi was impressed with the tactical skills that Artur Beterbiev showed last Saturday night in the title defense of his three light heavyweight belts against Callum Smith in Quebec City, Canada.

Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KOs) used tactics to take Smith (29-2, 21 KOs) apart slowly by backing him up, pounding, and then backing off to give him a sense of confidence.

It was initially though that Beterbiev would try and destroy Smith because he jumped on him in the first minute of the opening round, raining shots on him against the ropes. It looked for a second like Smith was in trouble.

Malignaggi says that Beterbiev is known for coming forward on his opponents to wear them down with heavy shots, but against Smith, he used movement, circling the ring and that was surprising. By doing that, Beterbiev was controlling the former WBA super middleweight champion Smith’s aggression.

Luring the Prey

“He was backing Smith up a lot, but there were times when he was allowing himself to be backed up. He kind of circled the ring a little bit and sort of allowed Callum to get a little comfortable coming forward and then before restarting again,” said Paulie Malignaggi to ProBox TV about last Saturday’s fight between Artur Beterbiev and Callum Smith.

“He [Beterbiev] kind of fought in a technical way. He wasn’t just the come-forward guy. Obviously, when he did a lot of the damage, he came forward and did what he did. There were times when Smith was coming forward, and it was almost like Beterbiev would lure him again and then restart to back him up again to give him that false sense of security to keep him opening up.

“A lot of times, it’s tough to get guys to open up a lot against a guy with such a big puncher like Beterbiev. I thought he played the night very, very well. I thought he played the game plan very well,” said Malignaggi.

Stress Test Under the Lights

“He was really putting Callum Smith in uncomfortable places where, physically and mentally, he was stressing Callum,” said Malgnaggi. “You start to see that with a lot of Beterbiev’s opponents that do end up going some rounds, the ones that he doesn’t get rid of early.

“You start to see how the stress starts to get to them. They start to physically and mentally wear away,” said Malignaggi.

YouTube video