Thursday, January 11th 2024

Press Conference Notes: Artur Beterbiev Set to Defend Unified Light Heavyweight Crown against Callum Smith

Beterbiev-Smith and Christian Mbilli-Rohan Murdock will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ Saturday beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT

QUEBEC CITY, Canada (Jan 11, 2024)   Boxing’s knockout king hopes to make 20 for 20 against a British former world champion intent on upsetting the long odds.

WBC/WBO/IBF light heavyweight king Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) will defend his world titles against former super middleweight ruler Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) this Saturday, Jan. 13 at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada. Beterbiev, a two-time Russian Olympian who now calls Montreal home, is boxing’s only world champion with a 100 percent knockout ratio.

In the 10-round super middleweight co-feature, Christian Mbilli (25-0, 21 KOs) will defend his WBC Continental Americas and WBA International titles against Australian contender Rohan Murdock (27-2, 19 KOs).

Beterbiev-Smith and Christian Mbilli-Rohan Murdock will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

The ESPN+-streamed undercard (5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT) will feature Australian world champion Jason “Mayhem” Moloney (26-2, 19 KOs) defending his WBO bantamweight world title against Mexican-American challenger Saul Sanchez (20-2, 12 KOs).

At Thursday’s press conference, this is what the main event fighters and their head trainers had to say.

Artur Beterbiev

“I’m excited, just like I am for every fight. For this fight, we prepared like we usually do, which is at 100 percent.”

“I’m focused on this fight. I’m happy that my supporters are coming to watch us. But I have things to do.”

Callum Smith

“I’m here to do a job. I’m here to become a world champion again. I’m here with my team. And as long as I’m with them, I can be anywhere and feel like home. I’m in a good place mentally and physically, and I’m ready to perform.”

“This will be exciting. He’s a very good fighter. He’s a three-belt champion. So, his achievements speak for themselves. But, I believe in myself. I always have. I believe that the best version of me can beat anyone in the world. I fully stand by that.”

“I’ve improved a lot over the last couple of years with {my trainer} Buddy McGirt. And the time is now. I’m ready to become a two-division world champion. I’m being presented with the opportunity this weekend, and it’s an opportunity I plan on taking.”

“Regardless of whether the crowd is cheering for me or against me, I’m there to do a job. My focus is on my opponent. It’s nice to have people cheering for you. But if they’re not, I’m still there to do the same thing.”

Marc Ramsay (Beterbiev’s head trainer)

“He’s a good fighter. He’s a complete. He’s No. 1 for a reason. But at the end of the day, Artur has been boxing since he was nine. He’s seen everything.”

“It’s always good {for him to start camp in Russia}. It’s a protocol that we’ve had for a long time. We’ve had success with that protocol. He goes to a high altitude to start training camp the right way and make sure he’s not starting the real camp at zero.”

Buddy McGirt (Smith’s head trainer)

“He’s very underrated. I think a lot of people underestimate him. He’s going to really showcase what he can do on Saturday night.”

“You can’t go into the fight thinking about his record. We know what’s in front of us. We’re not stupid. We know that it’s a tough test. We’re prepared for that. If you’re worried about that, you’re in the wrong business.”
Saturday, January 13

ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT)

Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Smith, 12 rounds, Beterbiev’s WBC/IBF/WBO Light Heavyweight World Titles

Christian Mbilli vs. Rohan Murdock, 10 rounds, WBC Continental Americas & WBA International Super Middleweight Titles

ESPN+ (5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT)

Jason Moloney vs. Saul Sanchez, 12 rounds, Moloney’s WBO Bantamweight World Title

Imam Khataev vs. Michael Ludwiczak, 10 rounds, light heavyweight

Leila Beaudoin vs. Elizabeth Espinoza, 8 rounds, junior lightweight

Wilkens Mathieu vs. Jose Arias Alvarez, 6 rounds, super middleweight

Mehmet Ünal vs. Dragan Lepei, 8 rounds, light heavyweight

Christopher Guerrero vs. Sergio Herrera, 8 rounds, welterweight

Moreno Fendero vs. Victor Hugo Flores, 4 rounds, middleweight