Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Smith: Strategic Analysis

By Sal Arteaga - 01/13/2024 - Comments

Unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) is set to defend his titles against top contender Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) tonight at the Videotron Centre in Quebec, Canada. The winner will then most likely face Dmitry Bivol (22-0, 11 Kos) for the undisputed light heavyweight championship sometime later this year.

Callum Smith has not fought elite-level competition since his loss against Canelo Alvarez (60-2- 2, 39 KOs) in December 2020. In that match, he appeared overpowered and outmatched. Canelo outlanded Smith 214 to 99 per Compubox. 57 percent of the punches landed were power punches, which is remarkable, considering Smith was the bigger fighter in terms of size.

After that loss, he moved up to light heavyweight and defeated both Gilbert Rivera (24-5-1, 19 KOs) and Mathieu Bauderlique (21-2, 12 KOs) by knockout.

This weight class seems to serve Callum Smith better as his 6 feet 3-inch-tall frame has less weight to cut and appears much stronger. He now faces another strong power puncher in Artur Beterbiev, whose 100 percent knockout percentage is the highest among active champions.

If Smith allows Beterbiev to dictate the match with pressure as Canelo did, the result will be much the same. Smith needs to make this a boxing match and keep Beterbiev at a distance, using his five-inch reach advantage effectively. Canelo was able to push Callum back and place him into a defensive retreat.

John Ryder (32-6, 18 KOs) was also able to do the same against Callum, if he finds himself retreating and, on the defensive, he’ll be playing to Beterbiev’ s strength and the match will look very similar to the Canelo match. Whereby Canelo walked through Callum’s punches and inflicted great punishment.

Artur Beterbiev is a strong-power puncher who knows how to trap his opponents into the ropes and utilize the ring to his advantage. This match will be fought in a small 18×18 ring which will allow Beterbiev to cut the ring much more effectively. He’s fought tall, lengthy fighters in the past and done very well against them, defeating 6 foot 2’ Oleksandr Gvozdyk (20-1, 16 KOs) by technical knockout.

Callum Smith size should pose no difficulties, smaller sized fighters in Canelo and Ryder successfully outmaneuvered and outpowered Smith. The biggest question for Beterbiev is if his nearly 12-month layoff will cause any ring rust and if, at 38 years of age, he’ll show any signs of decline.

Callum Smith last fought in August of 2022, nearly 17 months ago. He makes his return against a lethal power puncher who will punish him for the entire match.

Smith was phased by Canelo’s punches, and will be more so of Beterbiev’ s, can he endure the full 12-rounds?

Source: Compubox