Last week it was announced that the WBC light heavyweight mandatory bout, between three-belt light heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev, who holds the WBC, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight titles, will face the number-one challenger Callum Smith, on August 19th, at the Centre Videotron, Quebec City, Canada.
Smith, who now trains with James “Buddy” McGirt, a man accredited with the late-career brilliance of Arturo Gatti, and Sergey Kovalev, recently caught up with ProBox TV News to talk about the fight and give some general observations.
“Beterbiev can punch, he is tough, he is durable,” said McGirt in Manteca, California, when he cornered Janibek Alimkhanuly who stopped Steven Butler in two rounds in Stockton, California. “But, I don’t think [Beterbiev] has been in with anyone like Callum [Smith].”
Smith, a former WBA super middleweight champion, lost his title to Canelo Alvarez, during Canelo’s brilliant run in 2021. During Smith's run to the world title, he defeated George Groves, John Ryder, and Rocky Fielding as well as made a reputation for being one of the nastiest punchers of his era, as he seemingly could knock out anyone. Smith has continued showing that power at light heavyweight getting a knockout of the year contender last with his brutal one-punch KO of Mathieu Bauderlique, last August.
Beterbiev is also, 38-years-old, whereas Smith is 33 years old, a five-year age gap. This is something Buddy McGirt doesn’t view as much of a factor for this upcoming unified world title fight.
“I don’t judge a guy by his age,” explained McGirt to ProBox TV News. “George Foreman proved that a long time ago, so the key is to be ready - extra ready, but Callum right now is the best light heavyweight out there.”
As for what makes Callum Smith the best light heavyweight in Buddy McGirt’s eyes, it is simple - McGirt feels Smith has intelligence, unlike any other fighter in the division, both in and out of the ring.
“Each round he figures you out,” said McGirt about the strength of Callum Smith. “He is always thinking in there, and he is a great student.”