Writers look for angles going into fights. The popular one circulating before Artur Beterbiev fought Callum Smith last Saturday was that the Russian wrecking ball was beginning to fray around the edges.
Injuries and legal issues had limited him to 19 career fights.
“And age,” said promoter Eddie Hearn several weeks ago in an article on www.boxingscene.com
Beterbiev will turn 39 this week.
Inactivity was another angle.
“He had to pull out of the first fight [with Smith]. You know, saw him against [Anthony] Yarde, obviously a very good fighter, but just started to show a few signs. I think he can be hurt.”
Beterbiev did have a tough fight against Yarde last year. Perhaps that was because the muscular Brit is better than most assumed. Or maybe Beterbiev had an off night. Whatever the reasons, Beterbiev stopped Yarde inside the distance. The knockout win was his 19th in succession.
Smith certainly believed he could win.
“I believe in me own chances,” Smith said. “I fully believe I’m good enough and capable to take him out.”
Smith, a former super middleweight champion, had moved up to the light heavyweight division. The biggest win on his resume was over George Groves in 2018.
He joined forces with trainer Buddy McGirt. Smith won by a knockout in his light heavyweight debut. He repeated the feat last year. Several were impressed.
Still, the angle was Smith was in his prime (whatever that means), and Beterbiev was past his. The timing was perfect for Smith to spring the upset.
All the jabbering was coming from Smith’s side. Were they trying to convince themselves they could win?
Beterbiev’s team and fighter himself said little. Trainer Marc Ramsey did say his fighter wasn’t aging. His skills were intact.
Boxing is the ultimate show-me sport.
The so-called inactive, injured, and aging Beterbiev showed a lot on fight night. The most impressive wrinkle is his fighter’s brain. He’s calm and calculating in the ring.
A thinking man’s assassin.
“Smith is a fighter that I respect a lot but in the third or fourth round, I knew I had him and it was only a matter of time,” Beterbiev said after the fight.
He started the fight by mauling Smith – reminding him who the stronger man is. Smith tried to fight back to gain Beterbiev’s respect. The Russian tank pushed forward. His jab knocked Smith back a step. He effectively worked the body of his taller foe.
There was no quit in Smith, but it must be frustrating when you land a good punch, and nothing happens. Nothing was happening a lot for Smith.
He was fighting hard, but Beterbiev was patiently beating him up.
Beterbiev landed clubbing right hands in round five. Smith jabbed, but a gun might have evened the odds. Beterbiev worked Smith over in round six. The end was near. The transplanted Russian pushed the action in the next heat. A hard right hurt Smith – who teetered near the ropes. Beterbiev followed up, and Smith went down for the first time in his career.
He got up. Beterbiev advanced, tattooing Smith with blows. The Liverpool lad went down again. McGirt waved the massacre off.
“It’s because of luck,” said Beterbiev. “It’s my coach. My team works hard with me, too. Maybe that’s why, too. But I think it’s because of luck.
Nope, no luck.
Artur Beterbiev is one bad man.
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