Beterbiev Vs. Smith Preview & Prediction
IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and his WBC mandatory Callum Smith met today for their final press conference ahead of this Saturday night’s fight on January 13th, 2024, on ESPN for their highly anticipated bout at the Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Canada. The start time for Saturday’s Beterbiev vs. Smith card is 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.
This is Smith’s chance to win three belts from Beterbiev and punch his ticket for life-changing money for a fight against WBA champ Dmitry Bivol in Saudi Arabia.
Smith Towering Tall, Ready to Prove His Mettle
Callum (29-1, 21 KOs) towered over the unbeaten monster puncher Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) during their face-off at the end of the press conference, and one could tell that he meant business.
Smith comes into Saturday’s contest with Beterbiev having won his last two bouts since being humbled by Canelo Alvarez in 2020.
Unbelievably, Smith has fought just twice in the last four years, beating Lenin Castillo and Mathieu Bauderlique. Smith got a new trainer, Buddy McGirt after the loss to Canelo, but he hasn’t been nearly active as much as he had before his defeat.
Callum Smith: “I think it’s going to be exciting. He’s a champion, a three-belt champion, so I think his achievements speak for themselves. I believe the best version of me beats anyone in the world, and I stand by that. I believe I’ve proven that over the last couple of years under Buddy [McGirt],” said Smith during today’s final press conference.
“The times now, I’m ready to become a two-division champion, and I’m being presented with the opportunity this weekend, and an opportunity that I plan on taking.”
Buddy McGirt: “I think he’s very underrated. I think a lot of people underestimate him [Callum Smith], and he’s going to showcase what he can do on Saturday night. You can’t go into a fight thinking about his [Beterbiev] record. We know what’s in front of us. We’re not stupid.
“We know it’s a tough task, and we’re prepared for it. If you’re worried about all that, you’re in the wrong business. So, we know what’s in front of us; we know what’s coming at us. So when the bell rings, he takes three steps in, and I take three steps out. So, we’re prepared.
“Now, it’s all about him going in and handling his business on Saturday night.”
Smith Remains Undeterred by Inactivity
Callum Smith: “I’ve done technically three camps, so I’ve always been in the gym. There was the postponed fight in August, and then I was supposed to fight in March. So, I’ve not been out of the gym for 17 months. I’ve been in the gym, constantly learning and constantly working with Buddy.
“I believe I’ve used the time well. Inactivity isn’t ideal, but it’s not like I’ve been sitting out injured. I’ve been constantly improving as a fighter. So, I don’t worry too much about it. My last fight, I was out eleven months before, and it didn’t bother me too much.
“You can’t read too much into that. As long as you’ve had a good camp, you’ll get in, listen, and perform; I’m not too worried. Massive. When I was younger, I used to be asked if there was pressure being the youngest of four [brothers from a boxing family] fighting brothers.
“I always felt the opposite. It was a benefit. I have three very good fighters to look up to, and they’re the first people I turn to when I need advice. I feel I’ve improved a lot from just listening and watching over the years. I just think it’s beneficial to have three fighters that know what you’re going through this week.
“They know when to leave me alone; they know when to support me. So, it’s massive to have that in the family. Hopefully, we have success this weekend and have more success for the family.”
Beterbiev: Focused and Unfazed by Pressure
Artur Beterbiev: “No, I’m focused on a fight. I’m happy they’re coming to watch us. I have things to do, other things to do,” on whether Beterbiev feels pressure for this fight with Callum.
“When you’re a sportsman, it’s already changed your life. It’s my job. I’m happy that I’m a boxer; I’m a sportsman. In Quebec, people are very interested in sports, and they practice sports. For example, at seven o’clock in the morning, I’m a little bit lazy, and I see all the people, 77 and 80-something, and you’re not tired anymore for this morning.”
Callum Smith: “Yeah, it gives you a little bit of proof, but regardless of whether they’re there to cheer or are against me, I have a job to do when the bell goes; I’m focused on my opponent. It’s nice to have them there for you. If they’re not cheering for you, I’m still there to do the same.
“You get tunnel vision when you’re in there, so you don’t hear them as much. It’s nice if they’re for you, but my goal is still to become a world champion.”
Marc Ramsay: “It’s always good. That’s a protocol that we have had for a long time, and we have success with that protocol,” said Beterbiev’s trainer Ramsay about Artur going to the mountains in Russia for the first part of his training camps.
“It’s just the fact that he’s going to high altitude for training camps to start the right away and to make sure that he’s not starting the real training camp at zero like he’s already in good shape when he comes to training camp in America.
“This is very important. We love to see all the publicity that ESPN is making outside with international. It’s very good, but it’s a little bit like Artur says now. We are very focused on what we have to do on Saturday.
“We cannot think too much about, ‘Oh, ESPN is there. There’s 10,000 people.’ That’s okay, but that’s not the main goal right now.”
Callum Smith: “Massively,” said Smith on how his trainer, Buddy, has improved his game. “Hopefully, we’ll see the improvements this weekend. He just improved me in areas that I needed to. Obviously, when I lost to Canelo under the lights, there were areas that I needed to tidy up on to changes in my team.
“The first one was moving over to train with Buddy. I feel like every day is a school day. I improve, I learn in the gym, and it’s making me an all-around better fighter.”
A Fight for the Ages
Buddy McGirt: “Fights like this is what boxing needs, and if I wasn’t in the corner, I’d pay to see this fight because it’s the best fighting the best. It’s a fight going in. You’ve got the two best in the division getting it on, whereas you’ve got a champion fighting a guy that nobody has ever heard of. That’s no good.
“So, Top Rank and Eddie Hearn, thank you for putting this together, and I think it’s great for boxing. We need more stuff like this.”
Callum Smith: “That I need to be better, I need to make changes after that,” said Smith when asked what he learned from his loss to Canelo. “I changed my trainer, and I changed my weight division. I changed my outlook on the sport, and I set new goals. The main one was to become a world champion in a new weight division.
“I’ve put the work in over the last two, three years since that fight, and I’m now in a position where I’m at that point fighting for three world titles. As I said earlier, it’s an opportunity that I don’t plan on letting slip up. I plan on performing to the best of my ability this weekend. The best version of me beats Artur Beterbiev.”
Artur Beterbiev: “Ask me after the fight, please,” said Beterbiev when asked what more does he feel he has to accomplish in the sport if he’s victorious against Smith on Saturday night.”