George Groves backs 'animal' Artur Beterbiev to beat Callum Smith

George Groves believes Artur Beterbiev remains enough of an “animal” to stop Callum Smith.

The IBF, WBC and WBO light heavyweight champion on Saturday defends his titles against Smith at the Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Canada. 

Beterbiev will turn 39 eight days after they fight, and Smith would have ended a year’s inactivity had they fought as originally scheduled in August 2023. Their competitive and appealing match-up may yet be determined by which of Beterbiev’s age and perceived decline and Smith’s inactivity proves more influential, and Groves told ProBox TV: “[Beterbiev] had an infection in his jaw and he had to have an operation for that [postponing the fight until this weekend]. So I’m not sure whether that plays a part. 

“Smith’s general consensus is he’s very dangerous early when he was at super middleweight. And then hardly ever stopped anyone late. But he's a good fighter; good boxer. 

“But Beterbiev is still an animal at 38 and stops a lot of people late. And he’s got some good names on his résumé.”

Groves retired after being stopped by Smith in seven rounds at super middleweight in September 2018. 

“I’d like to see Smith beat him,” he said of the 33 year old. “I think Smith can beat him, but probably where they’re at now in their careers, if both guys show up in good form and fitness, I think he will probably stop Smith late.”