Callum Johnson (17-0, 12 KOs) says he’s ready to pull off a big upset on Saturday night by beating IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) and taking his title home from him when he returns to the UK.
Johnson, 33, and Beterbiev will be fighting on DAZN in their kickoff card at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. At Friday’s weigh-in, Johnson looked shorter, smaller and not confident when the two of them stood during the face off.
Johnson is going to need to be a lot fiercer looking on Saturday night when he gets inside the ring with Beterbiev, 33, because the way that he looked on Friday, he’s not going to be up for the job.
Although the 6’0” Johnson is listed as being taller the 5’11 ½” Beterbiev, it was the Russian that appeared to be the taller of the two when they were standing next to each other.
Johnson likes to jump on his opponents right off the bat to try and knock them out as fast as possible. That’s worked for Johnson in many of his fights during his
”I plan on taking the title home and shocking the world,” Johnson said via skysports.com. “It took me about half a second to say yes. I am not in this game to turn down an opportunity like this. I know I am fighting a real good fighter, he’s a feared man but I fear no one.”
You’ve got to give Johnson credit for taking the fight with Beterbiev. A lot of fighters didn’t want any part of fighting the two-time Russian Olympian. This is a guy that arguably beat Oleksandr Usyk twice in the amateurs at the 2011 World Amateur Championships quarter-finalist in Baku, Azerbaijan and 2012 Olympics. Usyk was given close decisions in both fights, but the judges didn’t give Beterbiev credit for many of his bigger shots that he was landing.
Callum hasn’t fought anyone near the same class as Beterbiev, and that’s going to make it incredibly tough on him when he decides to go on the attack in the early going. It would be in Johnson’s best interest to have another game plan to use against Beterbiev other than just rushing him and throwing shots, because that might end badly for him if he fights like that. Johnson took out Frank Buglioni in the 1st round in his last fight to win the British light heavyweight title last March. However, that was against a flawed fighter with nowhere near the same boxing talent as Beterbiev nor the same kind of punching power. Johnson could get himself hurt if he uses a primitive style against Beterbiev, because you’ve got to come better than that to beat him.
Callum looked like fear was in every part of his body when he stood and faced Beterbiev during Friday’s weigh-in. The contrast between the body language of the two was very telling. Johnson doesn’t look ready for this caliber of a fighter. Johnson doesn’t have the same amateur background as Beterbiev, and he’s not had the experience in the pro ranks to properly prepare him for what he’s going to face when he gets inside the ring with the Russian KO artist. You can expect Johnson to give it a good try on Saturday, but ultimately he’ll be way out of his depth and will discover quickly that he’s bitten off more than he can chew in facing Beterbiev. Johnson did the right thing in agreeing to take the fight with Beterbiev, because he might not ever get another opportunity like this again. If Johnson an get lucky, he could score a quick knockout of Beterbiev, but he’s going to have to go all out in the first two rounds, because he won’t last long once he starts getting hit.