Callum Johnson says he’ll fight Artur Beterbiev
By Trevor McIntyre: Callum Johnson says he’ll be fighting for a world title against IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, who needs to make a defense of his title soon. None of the contenders ranked above the #8 IBF Johnson were interested in facing the unbeaten Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) for some reason.
Johnson (17-0, 12 KOs) had this to say about Beterbiev on Friday..
”I don’t know how I’m gunna do it. I just know why I’m gunna do it.”
This will be a big step up for Johnson, as his best wins of his 8-year pro career have come against Frank Buglioni and Wilbeforce Shihepo. Johnson’s habit of knocking out his opposition early in his fights isn’t the type of approach that one would want to use against the hard hitting Beterbiev, who loves that style of fighting and does very well against it. Johnson might not last more than 3 or 4 rounds against Beterbiev if he comes out slugging.
Johnson isn’t afraid to fight Beterbiev. It’s a situation where he almost can’t turn it down career-wise. Johnson is 32, he’s not getting any younger, and he’s rated low at #13 with the WBO. Johnson isn’t rated in the top 15 with the WBA and WBC. If he rejects the Beterbiev fight, it could take many years before he’s given another shot at a world title.
Johnson would probably have a better shot at beating Kovalev than Beterbiev due to his stamina problems, and his inability to take body shots. However, Johnson is ranked too low with the WBO for him to get a mandatory title shot anytime soon. Kovalev’s promoters at Main Event are unlikely to ever give a dangerous puncher like Johnson a voluntary title shot against him, because he’s too risky. Beterbiev is really the only chance that Johnson has right now for a world title fight.
It’s a credit to Johnson that he doesn’t plan on rejecting the fight with Beterbiev. Guys like Anthony Yarde and Marcus Browne went in another direction to eventually fight for the WBO title against Sergey Kovalev. The way things could end up, Beterbiev might soon be the World Boxing Organization champion, as he could be facing champion Sergey Kovalev soon. Beterbiev’s contractual dispute with his promoter Yvon Michel at GYM is expected to be resolved in the next few weeks. Beterbiev’s 3-day court case ended on Wednesday for his dispute with GYM, and he expects to learn soon whether he’ll be free to move on from that promotional company or not.
Here’s what Beterbiev said on his Instagram about his contractual dispute with GYM:
”Yesterday my 3-day trial against the former promoter GYM came to an end. The verdict will be given in the nearest future. I am satisfied with the development of the court hearing, full of optimism and in a good mood. I have no doubt the judge will render a fair decision. I take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to my team of lawyers headed by the Honorable Karim Renno for their tremendous work before and during the court hearing. I would also like to thank all the people who came to support me in the court room, as well as all my fans who worry about me. Everything will be fine, thank you all!”
Michel plans on having Beterbiev fight on HBO, and he’s interested in matching him in unification fights against WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol or WBO champion Kovalev.
”We’re going on HBO,” Michel said to journaldemontreal.com. ”I have had discussions with the boss of this channel, Peter Nelson. One could then think of unification shocks against Dmitry Bivol or Sergey Kovalev.”
If Beterbiev becomes a free agent, he’s expected to sign with Top Rank, according to Journal Montreal. Beterbiev’s fights would be televised on ESPN in that case. One would hope that Beterbiev would be busier with his boxing career, as he’s not been fighting often since 2016. He’s not fighting enough to increase his popularity and make the most of his boxing career. In 2017, Beterbiev fought just once in defeating Enrico Koelling by a 12th round knockout to win the vacant IBF light heavyweight title last November in Fresno, California. Beterbiev fought on a Top Rank card. Before that, Beterbiev fought twice in 2016.
Like Beterbiev, Callum Johnson has been dealing with inactivity with his career in the last couple of years. Johnson didn’t fight in 2017 after fighting three times in 2016 and looking very good. In 2018, Johnson has fought once in beating Buglioni by a 1st round knockout. Johnson needs to stay healthy and fight as often as he can for him to make things happen with his career. A win over Beterbiev would be a major plus for Johnson. It would open the door for unification fights against Bivol and Kovalev. Those two would likely be interested in fighting Johnson if he beats Beterbiev to win the IBF light heavyweight title. Johnson would make a name for himself with a victory over Beterbiev.