By Charles Brun: Artur Beterbiev will now defend his IBF, WBC & WBO light heavyweight titles against mandatory Callum Smith on the rescheduled January 13th date at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada. The event will be shown on ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) had recent dental surgery, which made it necessary for his August 19th title defense against his WBC mandatory Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) to be moved to the January 13th date.
Obviously, that is an extra long delay, but given that the surgery involved the 38-year-old Beterbiev’s teeth, it’s understandable that the fight is being delayed.
It’ll be good for Beterbiev to get the fight against the 33-year-old Callum out of the way to move on to a much bigger one against WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol. That’s one that the boxing world is interested in watching.
Callum Smith must use height & reach
If the 6’3″ Smith knew how to use his height, he could give Beterbiev problems, but he’s not that type of fighter. For this fight, Smith will need to utilize his reach because he won’t last long shelling up against the ropes, getting bombed nonstop by Beterbiev.
If Smith can’t keep Beterbiev at bay on January 13th, he’ll be knocked out at some point. Smith won’t be able to cover up on the ropes for twelve rounds, as we saw in his fights against Canelo Alvarez & John Ryder, without getting stopped by Beterbiev.
Smith tends to crowd his opponents, fighting them in close, trying to bang them out with body shots. Smith is usually effective with that style, but when he faces pressure fighters that neutralize his power, he wilts, retreating to the ropes to cover up.
In Callum’s bouts against Ryder & Canelo, he looked terrible, unwilling to get off the ropes to fight in the center of the ring and looking overmatched. Callum was given a controversial decision over Ryder while fighting in his hometown of Liverpool, but most fans saw it as aa 100% robbery.
Smith is a decent contender, but the criticism he receives is that he’s being given this opportunity due to clever match-making, being steered around the dangerous opposition.
Smith was embarrassed by Canelo Alvarez in 2020, losing every round in a one-sided twelve-round unanimous decision defeat in San Antonio, Texas.
Instead of redeeming himself against A-level opposition to earn another title shot, Smith beat two soft tune-up level fighters, Lenin Castillo & Mathieu Bauderlique, and here is being given another opportunity without properly earning it.
“It’s a few months later than originally planned, but I am thrilled that Artur Beterbiev will have a chance to defend his titles in front of the incredible Quebec City fans,” said Top Rank bosss Bob Arum. “Artur has a clean bill of health, and I know Callum, a supremely talented former champion, will be at his best on January 13th.”