In the left corner of the boxing world, standing tall with a record that screams “I’m unbeaten, but wait, who have I really fought?” is Artur Beterbiev. This guy’s been knocking out shadows and echoes for years, and now he’s ready to tangle with Callum Smith this Saturday night at the Centre Videotron, Quebec City. Ah, Quebec, where the air is crisp and the boxing, hopefully, crisper.
Beterbiev, with a record as spotless as a monk’s dining table (19-0, 19 KOs), is strutting into the ring, titles in tow. But here’s the catch – he’s 38, moving like he’s wading through maple syrup, and hasn’t thrown a punch in anger since he tussled with Anthony Yarde last January. Some say he’s ripe for the picking, like an apple hanging just a tad too long on the tree.
Enter Callum Smith, the man with a reach so long he could probably tie his shoes standing up. Smith, a boxer with a record so padded it could serve as a mattress (29-1, 21 KOs), has had a couple of hiccups against the only two guys who didn’t just stand there and let him hit them – Canelo Alvarez and John Ryder.
Smith’s record is as inflated as a hot air balloon, making it tough to say if he’s really got the goods to take on Beterbiev. It’s like judging a chef based on how well they make cereal. Sure, he won against an injured George Groves back in 2018, but let’s face it, even back then, David Benavidez was the real deal in the 168-lb division.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Rosado, who’s seen more punches than a time clock, can’t decide who’ll come out on top. He reckons Smith needs to fight like he’s trying not to wake up a sleeping baby – quiet, from a distance, and with a gentle jab.
Beterbiev, on the other hand, is looking to get close enough to Smith to read the label on his trunks. Smith, bless him, can dish it out but turns into a turtle when it comes back at him. Against Canelo and Ryder, he clung to those ropes like a koala to a eucalyptus tree, and still managed to get a hometown decision against Ryder in a fight scored by Mr. Magoo.
Dmitry Bivol is lurking in the shadows, waiting to see who emerges less battered for a shot at the undisputed championship.
Steve Bunce and Virgil Hunter weigh in too, with Bunce joking that Beterbiev is about as old as the hills and Hunter worried that Smith might just cover up and hope for the best.
For Smith to win, he’s got to be willing to trade leather and check his chin at the door because outboxing Beterbiev is like trying to outswim a dolphin. Hunter thinks it’s all about being careful and calculated, like playing chess while someone’s throwing rocks at your head.