Hearn takes inspiration from Johnson in believing Smith can dethrone Beterbiev

Eddie Hearn is no stranger to Artur Beterbiev [19-0, 19KOs], having once promoted his maiden world title defence in October, 2018, after successfully winning a purse bid to stage the fight. 

Typically, it ended clinically, with Beterbiev winning inside four rounds over Callum Johnson. However, more than five years later, Hearn is taking the positives from that contest for Johnson in the hope that Callum Smith [29-1, 21KOs] can become a two-weight world champion and defeat Beterbiev. 

Beterbiev vs Johnson was a fan-friendly fight with two entertaining fights, albeit Johnson on a domestic scale in the UK but a talented fighter. Johnson dropped Beterbiev courtesy of a left hook, which ultimately Beterbiev could recover from and secure victory two rounds later. 

Beterbiev had been due to defend his unified titles against Callum Smith in August, 2023. However, the contest has been delayed till January 13 due to a jaw infection on behalf of Beterbiev. The contest takes place at the Centre Videotron, Quebec City, Canada.

Hearn, who has promoted former super-middleweight champion Smith throughout his career, has envisaged Smith being able to halt Beterbiev in his tracks with a left hook, just like his former stablemate Johnson was able to do, but doing so in victory. 

“Yeah, you know, you can just see it, you know?” Hearn told Matchroom Boxing’s Youtube channel when introducing his thoughts on Beterbiev vs Smith.

“I remember when Callum Johnson fought Artur Beterbiev years ago. It was actually our first-ever Matchroom Boxing USA show on DAZN. And he dropped Beterbiev with a left hook. I can just – every time I think about this fight, you know, as Callum does, just catch, counter, I can see him knocking out Artur Beterbiev out cold in Quebec.”

Hearn concedes that the task in hand is tough but has confidence in Liverpudlian Smith to defeat Beterbiev, who is one of the most dominant champions currently in the sport. 

“It’s a tough task, but I really believe [Callum is] gonna do it,” Hearn said. “And, you know, people give him a good shot in that fight. And I do. I really believe Callum Smith will beat Beterbiev and become the unified light heavyweight world champion, two-division world champion as well. Can’t wait to be there. And, you know, it’s one of those nights where you go and get victory over there, and it’s just one that you really remember.”

Hearn concludes by suggesting that Beterbiev has questions to answer predominantly around his age and how Beterbiev is after injury. Hearn believes Beterbiev is showing signs of slowing down following the unified champion’s encounter with Anthony Yarde in January last year.

“And [Beterbiev's] age,” Hearn said. “You know, he had to pull out of the first fight [with Smith]. I saw him against [Anthony] Yarde. He is obviously a very good fighter, but he just started to show a few signs. You know, I think he can be hurt. But it’s a big danger, and Callum’s gotta get it spot on. But I believe he’ll do it.”