Callum Johnson has the opportunity of a lifetime when he challenges Artur Beterbiev for the IBF light-heavyweight championship of the world, this Saturday night at the UIC Pavillion in Chicago, Illinois.
Following a protracted hiatus, Boston-born Johnson captured the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles last March at London’s O2 Arena, pummelling Frank Buglioni into submission inside the opening round.
After annihilating Buglioni early and asserting his position as one of Britain’s best at 175, Johnson has taken what is regarded by most as an extremely audacious step up to challenge Beterbiev, the formidable IBF champion who has stopped every single one of his opponents.
Johnson, a former Commonwealth games gold medallist now trained by Joe Gallagher, will no doubt be looking to replicate the heroics of his stablemate Callum Smith; someone who last weekend sensationally dethroned George Groves in the final of the World Boxing Super Series.
Nevertheless, a win over Beterbiev would definitely represent a far greater upset than Smith’s knockout win over Groves in Jeddah.
Despite his relative inactivity since claiming the vacant IBF title with a knockout of Enrico Koelling, the Russian is widely considered to be one of the most ferocious punchers in the sport.
A bona fide boxing predator – patient yet deadly – Beterbiev possesses immense physical strength and methodically suffocates opponents in the ring with extreme pressure and sickeningly powerful punches.
Like Johnson, Beterbiev was an accomplished amateur in his country; twice besting former unified champion and pound-for-pound superstar Sergey Kovalev in the unpaid ranks.
As demonstrated by the clinical manner in which he dispatched of Buglioni, Johnson is a respectable puncher himself and it is clear to all that he possesses sufficient skills and heart to at least trouble many of the current light-heavyweights.
Ultimately, however, expect the Englishman to be immediately forced onto the defensive and eventually stopped as he succumbs to Beterbiev’s sheer force – probably in the early-to-middle rounds.
On the undercard, Brooklyn’s loquacious heavyweight contender Jarrell ‘Big-Baby’ Miller faces former cruiserweight champion and heavyweight world title challenger Tomasz Adamek; someone who will probably enjoy vociferous support from a sizeable Polish-American crowd on the night.
Welterweight contender Jessie Vargas will also be facing Thomas Dulorme, following the former’s closely-fought majority draw with Adrien Broner in April.
Also notably featuring on the card is Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell who makes a second world title attempt against WBA champion Daniel Roman, following a previous unsuccessful challenge for the vacant WBC title against Rey Vargas.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @DarkMan________