IBF light-heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12KOs) is probably one of the most avoided fighters in boxing today.
The 33-year-old has been left frustrated with none of the top light-heavys willing to step up to the plate and face the Canada-based champion.
Normally British fighters are willing to take an opportunity of fighting for a world title in a heart beat but even our domestic No.1 Anthony Yarde (15-0, 14KOs) recently turned down the Russian.
Team Beterbiev and the IBF have been urgently seeking an opponent but have constantly hit a brick wall. In the end they decided to offer the British and Commonwealth champion Callum Johnson (17-0, 12KOs) the chance of fighting Beterbiev and the Englishman jumped at the chance of fighting the 175lb recking machine. Johnson said: “These opportunities don’t come around every day and, when my promoter Eddie Hearn showed me the letter from the IBF offering the fight, I jumped at it.
“I’m in the game to be in the biggest and best fights possible. I’ve dreamt of winning a world title since I was a kid so I’m not going to turn down this chance because he [Beterbiev] is this apparent beast. I believe I am a beast as well and can beat him.”
Johnson, also 33, was almost a forgotten force due to his inactivity but produced his best performance to date when he knocked out Frank Buglioni in the first round earlier this year.
The Commonwealth gold medalist is no mug and should not be taken lightly but he will be facing another devastating puncher in Beterbiev.
Johnson continued: “I’ve boxed big, ferocious, Russians before in the amateurs and I know how they fight and what they do. I know they might not be as big and bad as Beterbiev but you have to be in it to win it and I’m confident I can beat anyone on my day.
“I know a lot about him, we was in the amateurs at the same time, I used to watch him and he’s always been the force that he is.
“At the same time, we’re all human, I don’t fear any man so all the talk of how big and strong he is, his power, it’s all very well and good, but at the end of the day, he’s human. I don’t fear him.”
Although discussions are still ongoing with September being earmarked the Boston-man has no fear traveling overseas to take on the Russian knockout artist. He said: “After my last win, I did initially want a European title shot, but suddenly I got this chance of a lifetime and I didn’t ever consider not taking it.
“I’m not totally sure of the current situation, I think Beterbiev may have a few promotional problems that need to be settled first.
“I’m just training and waiting for a date. They’ve spoke about September but it could be later on in the year, I leave that down to the team.
“I’d like to get a fight in before but it all depends on how negotiations go, when it takes place and what my team think the best thing to do is.
“Having boxed in the USA and Canada many times as an amateur, it’s not something brand new for me, I’ve been there and done it.”