Artur Beterbiev: I Don’t Want To Beat Hopkins’ Record, But 3, 4, 5 More Years, I Think I’m Good

Boxing Scene

Artur Beterbiev doesn’t see his age as a deterrent.

The IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion will turn 39 on January 21, but the hard-hitting Russian intends to continue fighting for “three, four, five years.” The often-injured Beterbiev has fought only 19 times since he made his pro debut 10½ years ago due to various physical issues and a legal battle with former promoter Yvon Michel.

The 2012 Olympian hopes to start making up for lost time Saturday night, when he’ll end nearly a one-year layoff against England’s Callum Smith.

“I don’t want to beat the record of Hopkins,” Beterbiev told BoxingScene.com. “I think he was a champion when he was 49. I don’t want to beat his record, but three, four, five years, I think I’m good.”

Philadelphia’s Bernard Hopkins held the IBF and WBA world light heavyweight titles until he was 49. The long-reigning former middleweight champion didn’t retire until Joe Smith Jr. knocked him out in the eighth round of a December 2016 bout that took place when Hopkins was 51.

The 38-year-old Beterbiev’s bout with Smith was postponed almost five months because the longtime Montreal resident developed an infection in his jaw after a dental procedure over the summer. They were scheduled to fight for Beterbiev’s belts August 19 at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada, but their fight was postponed late in July.

Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) and Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) will fight at that same venue Saturday night in a 12-round main event ESPN will televise.

Beterbiev expressed disappointment after having to deal with yet another physical setback. He previously postponed fights due to knee, rib and shoulder injuries.

“You know, it’s life,” Beterbiev said. “During my boxing career, my life is going, too. They go together. I need to take everything like it’s my road, you know? Of course, I want more fights, I want to be more active. But it’s like this. I can’t do nothing [about it]. It’s not on purpose, it [just] happened like this.”

His recently completed training camp encouraged Beterbiev about extending his often-stalled professional career into his 40s.

“If it’s going like this, I’ll continue, no problem, because I have health,” Beterbiev said. “I always ask my coach, because I have a conditioning coach and I have a boxing coach – when I do sparring or do some exercises with the conditioning coach, I ask them how it was, if it was like five years ago? Better now or that time was better? They tell me you’re better now than that time.”

Beterbiev laughed and added, “I feel good, but I don’t know. I think maybe they lied to me. I don’t know.”

DraftKings sportsbook has established Beterbiev as more than a 4-1 favorite to beat Smith, a former WBA super middleweight champion who has lost only a 12-round unanimous decision to Canelo Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) in December 2020 at Alamodome in San Antonio. ESPN’s doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. ET, when Cameroon-born, Quebec-based super middleweight contender Christian Mbilli (25-0, 21 KOs) will square off against Australia’s Rohan Murdock (27-2, 19 KOs) in the network’s 10-round opener.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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