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Callum Johnson: Artur Beterbiev isn’t that big

Artur Beterbiev

By Scott Gilfoid: Callum Johnson isn’t all that impressed with the size or the punching power of IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, who he’ll be facing next on October 6 on DAZN at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois.

Johnson, 32, feels that Beterbiev, 33, doesn’t punch any harder than he does. Whether that is a good thing or not is the big question. Johnson hasn’t faced a big puncher during his eight-year pro career. So even if Beterbiev isn’t any more of a puncher than Johnson (17-0, 12 KOs) is, it’s still potentially going to be bad news for him if the Russian talent is able to land his shots. Going from fighting the likes of Frank Buglioni to facing a wrecking machine like Beterbiev is going to be a monstrous jump up in competition for Johnson.

“Everyone was saying how big he is, he’s massive for the weight, and everything else, but first impressions I thought he’s not that big,” said Johnson to

Beterbiev isn’t an exceptionally tall fighter. He’s just very, very heavy-handed. He doesn’t have blazing hand speed or a high work rate. If Johnson wants to beat Beterbiev, using a high volume attack would be the best way to go about doing that.

Johnson talks a good game, but his amateur and pro record doesn’t back up what he says. He’s not shown the kind of talent that suggests that he’ll be any more than a small speed bump for Beterbiev to roll over on October 6. Johnson is little more than another Buglioni level opponent for Beterbiev to make easy work of. Johnson’s style of fighting is made to order for Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs). Johnson is going to need to come up with some other ideas for him to be able to survive the early onslaught from Beterbiev because if he tries to slug with him in the early moments of the fight on October 6, he’s going to get taken out straight away.

Callum thinks that a victory over Beterbiev would be the perfect cap for his career, which is still at it’s early infancy. Johnson hasn’t fought anyone of note since turning pro nearly 10 years ago. For some reason, Johnson’s promoter Eddie Hearn has kept the training wheels on him without ever taking them off until now. Johnson should have been matched against the top contenders at 175 years ago instead of being matched weakly all these years. Waiting until Johnson is 32-years-old before finally putting him in with a talented fighter is clearly a mistake. That’s going to make it even tougher for Johnson because he hasn’t had a transition opponent to get him ready for what he’s going to be dealing with when he gets inside the ring with Beterbiev.

Hearn should have matched Johnson with these contenders by this point in his career: Anthony Yarde, Marcus Browne, Sergey Kovalev, Joe Smith Jr., Badou Jack, Jurgen Braehmer, Eleider Alvarez, Jean Pascal, Isaac Chilemba, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Andrzej Fonfara, Dominic Boesel and Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Johnson should have fought at least two or three of those fighters by now instead of now just cutting his teeth for the first time against a talented fighter in the light heavyweight division. Johnson has been fed with little more than pabulum all this time, and that’s unfortunate because he’s about to turn 33 and he’s done zero during his career.

Johnson stopped British light heavyweight champion Buglioni in the 1st round on March 24 at the O2 Arena. That was Johnson’s step up opponent. Buglioni was beaten three years ago by Fedor Chudinov by a 12 round unanimous decision in 2015. Since that loss, Buglioni had put together a small four-fight winning streak against weak opposition until meeting up with Johnson last March in London, England.

Beterbiev vs. Johnson will be fighting on the undercard of former two division world champion Jessie Vargas vs. Thomas Dulorme on DAZB in Chicago. Unfortunately for Beterbiev and Johnson, their fight likely won’t be seen by a lot of American boxing fans due to it being streamed on DAZN. Not a lot of boxing fans are likely going to order the card because the main event is arguably a terrible one between Vargas and Dulorme, and the DAZN streaming service sells for $10 per month to subscribe. That’s not a lot of money, but the U.S fans are picky in choosing to order fights.

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