McGirt not banking on Beterbiev's decline

Buddy McGirt is refusing to take encouragement from Artur Beterbiev-Anthony Yarde as he prepares Callum Smith to challenge the IBF, WBC and WBO light heavyweight champion.

The 33-year-old Smith on Saturday fights Beterbiev at the Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Canada, five months after the original date of August 19 that was postponed.

Little under a year will have passed since the Russian was given the toughest fight of his career in eight thrilling rounds against Anthony Yarde, when though he eventually stopped his challenger, Yarde’s success until then led to suggestions he is in decline.

Beterbiev will turn 39 eight days after he fights Smith – who would have ended a year’s inactivity had they fought in August 2023. Their competitive and appealing match-up may yet even be determined by which of Beterbiev’s age and perceived decline and Smith’s inactivity proves more influential, and asked of the Russian’s previous performance, McGirt told ProBox TV: "I mean, he looked good. He was Beterbiev, you know what I mean? 

“Yarde didn’t look the same to the Yarde I’ve seen previous. Maybe it could have been because of Beterbiev [potentially declining] – I don’t know. But you know, we’re preparing for the best Beterbiev there is.

“From what he showed in that fight, I thought Yarde was better. I knew Yarde was better because I had him when he fought [Sergey] Kovalev, [in 2019]. In that fight he just looked very big. Very muscle-bound.”

McGirt succeeded Joe Gallagher as Smith’s trainer in July 2021. 

“I’m not gonna say [Beterbiev showed signs of ageing], because I believe that styles make fights,” he continued. “At the end of the day he came out victorious, with a spectacular knockout, so obviously the signs ain’t that good [laughs].”