Artur Beterbiev vs Callum Smith – A Breakdown

Artur Beterbiev vs Callum Smith – A Breakdown

  • MMA News
  • janvier 9, 2024
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A massive night for the Light Heavyweight division this Saturday night goes down from Canada as Artur Beterbiev puts his unified Light Heavyweight titles on the line against Liverpudlian Callum Smith. Smith is likely the greatest challenge that Beterbiev has ever faced in his career and as his 39th birthday in on the horizon, the Chechen will have to be on his best form if he wishes to keep his belts and perfect 100% knockout ratio. 

Who has the power advantage?

Possessing ungodly power where his shots don’t appear to be super loaded, Beterbiev is just one of those stone-handed individuals who rocks his opponents no matter what he is landing. Perhaps this can best be seen in his two-round dismantling of Joe Smith (no relation to Callum). Joe Smith was the WBO Champion and alongside being heavy-handed in his own right with 22 knockouts to his name, was renowned for his toughness inside of the ring being labelled as a man with an iron chin and never having been knocked down in a fight, even fighting with a broken jaw to a decision on multiple occasions.

Beterbiev brawled with Smith and inside of two rounds achieved a TKO victory. This is the kind of power that not many fighters have. Beterbiev is certainly one of them.

Callum Smith is only a recent addition to the Light Heavyweight scene, previously making a name for himself at Super Middleweight where he once held the WBA world title. After making his move to Light Heavyweight some questioned whether the power he possessed a weight class below would transfer to his new division.

Their questions were certainly given a resounding answer following a devastating second-round knockout against Lenin Castillo in his Light Heavyweight debut. He would replicate this with a spectacular fourth-round knockout victory over Mathieu Bauderlique in a title eliminator that earned him a shot against Beterbiev.

While Smith has shown that he is a tremendous knockout artist in his own right with 21 of his 29 victories coming via knockout, the edge in terms of power has to be given to Beterbiev. 19 victories and 19 knockouts is almost unheard of in boxing, particularly in a weight class that is not either Heavyweight or Cruiserweight. 

Strengths

As stated previously, power is certainly a strength for both men yet it is important to realise that neither man is a brute who solely relies on their force. Beterbiev is a physical specimen who alongside possessing unnatural power is also gifted with impressive stamina, even though he has never gone the distance we have seen the champion make it as far as ten rounds before and he continues to give high output Beterbiev is recognised to be a relatively slow starter and starts to come into his element as the rounds go on.

Alongside his impressive physical attributes, Beterbiev is also blessed with an extremely solid skillset. A style where he often walks his opponents down, relentlessly pursuing them, Beterbiev is able to utilise a wide range of shots and attacks both the body and head, often slowing down the movement of his target with repeated attacks to the body before delivering a devastating headshot. 

Callum Smith is also far more than just a big right hand and is arguably the more technical of the two fighters. Utilising impressive footwork and combination punches, Smith has perfected the art of the counter punch, often landing a massive left hook on opponents who back him up against the ropes with often major effect.

Smith has also shown that he possesses great defence and punches rolling his shoulders and consistently utilising head movement which makes him a very hard target to hit. Also blessed physically, Smith’s tall frame standing at 6ft 3 and even longer reach of 78 inches means that he can keep his opponent at bay with jabs until he feels comfortable moving in with the power shots.

Weaknesses

It is hard to identify weaknesses in a man who is 19-0 with all of those victories coming via knockout. The obvious factor when discussing Beterbiev is to acknowledge his edge. Turning 39 just a week or so after this fight, surely he is nearing the end of his career and while there appeared to be no real signs of decline in his most recent performances, father time catches up to everyone. With his last performance against Anthony Yarde coming in January 2023, time has had a full year to sink its teeth into Beterbiev and it remains to be seen on Saturday whether his age will finally start to impact his performances. 

Alongside the question of age, it is worth noting that Beterbiev is actually quite hittable in his fights and has even been knocked down twice in his career, most recently and notably back in 2018 by Callum Johnson. The Johnson knockdown also came via a left hook – a favourite punch of Callum Smith. Now Beterbiev does not have a glass chin by any means, but Callum Smith is undoubtedly one of the biggest punchers he has come up against and if he is unable to get him out of there quickly as he did to Joe Smith, he may not want to be standing in front of the Liverpudlian as the fight goes on. His marauding style where he walks his opponent down could also leave him susceptible to a trademark Smith counterpunch. 

Smith himself has shown that he is capable of being beaten. The lone defeat in his career came in a resounding loss against Canelo Alvarez and he has also had razor-close fights with the likes of John Ryder, who could have easily been awarded the decision when they fought back in 2019. Both fights saw Smith unable to implement one of his biggest weapons, his jab. Canelo targeted the left arm of Smith to such an extent that he left the ring with a detached bicep following the contest. The damage to Smith’s arm saw him left with only one hand for the majority of the fight, making it almost impossible for him to beat the Mexican Maestro.

Ryder also managed to somewhat nullify the jab of Smith, often being able to slip the long-range weapon and move to the inside, an area which Smith can struggle with and certainly did so against John Ryder. We have seen Beterbiev work very efficiently on the inside landing big powerful shots to the body along with catching his opponent with a sneaky uppercut or hook to the head. This will have to be something that Smith will be wary of. 

Overall, both men are highly regarded as championship-level fighters, however, with the Dmitry Bivol unification bout on the horizon, will Beterbiev be overlooking Smith? Only time will tell!

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