Hearn Wants Smith to Go Inside and Hunt Knockout Against Beterbiev

By RustNate - 01/13/2024 - Comments

Matchroom bossman Eddie Hearn says he wants Callum Smith to fight IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev on the inside tonight, get his respect early, and look to knock him out with a “catch & counter left hook” in their twelve-round contest at the Centre Videotron in Quebec City.

Hearn thinks that Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) can’t win a twelve-round decision against Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs), which makes sense, given the location of the contest and the power the three-belt champion possesses.

Why The Inside Game?

Hearn feels that Callum is a better fighter on the inside, and that gives him a good chance of landing a catch-counter knockout blow, a shot that he used with perfection in his last contest to score a fourth-round knockout of Mathieu Bauderlique in August 2022.

Asking the 6’3″ Smith to take twelve rounds of punishment from Beterbiev doesn’t make sense, especially with his habit of backing up against the ropes and covering up like a turtle.

That approach has been resistant to change from 33-year-old Smith, so you have to assume that he’ll do that tonight and be on the receiving end of carpet bombing from Beterbiev.

Catch & Counter: The Winning Formula?

“I don’t want Callum Smith in a big ring tonight. I don’t think you want to be walked down by Beterbiev, backing up around a 20-ft ring, circling under pressure. Callum can’t fight that kind of fight. This fight needs to be over inside eight rounds,” said Eddie Hearn to Boxing Social on tonight’s headliner between unbeaten IBF, WBC & WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and the belt-hungry Callum Smith.

It would be useless for Smith to fight in a larger ring because he dislikes fighting in open ground and thrives when he’s near the ropes. He’s done a lot of sparring over the years, and he recognizes that he can rest his legs by fighting with his back against the ropes.

“[Forget] having Beterbiev back you up all night, hitting you around the earholes, neck, throat, and arms for twelve rounds,” said Hearn. “No, no, no. Get his respect early, pick your moment, catch & counter with the left hook, and knock him out. That is how Callum Smith is going to win this fight,” said Hearn.

Trading Risks and Rewards

“He’s not going to win this fight on points. He’s not going to win this fight by using the ring, a big ring, because you know what Beterbiev does,” said Hearn. “He walks you down; he puts pressure on you. I’m not saying that he should stand in the middle of the ring and start trading, but you have to be aggressive in this fight.”

Smith can’t defeat Beterbiev in the center of the ring, as he has too much body to protect and is uncomfortable with getting hit in the breadbasket.

We saw how Canelo was doubling Smith over with body shots in their fight in 2020, and that’s a good example of why he always shells up against the ropes. For Smith, the center of the ring is no man’s land, and he’ll get cut down quickly by Beterbiev’s fire if he tries to fight in open ground.

“You have to pick your spots. Callum Smith has a tremendous reach, and he’s a very good inside fighter, very good,” said Hearn. “I heard [trainer] Buddy [McGirt] say the other day, ‘He’s a better inside fighter than he has an outside fighter.’

“Against Canelo Alvarez, he chose to move and box on the outside, and it was [a bad thing for Smith to do]. But you can’t stand and fight on the inside against Canelo Alvarez. I think you’re going to have to do that against Beterbiev, which will lend itself to be a brilliant fight,” said Hearn.

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