With all eyes on a potential matchup with Dmitry Bivol later in the year, Artur Beterbiev may be in for a tougher fight on Jan. 13 than he initially predicted.
Combat sports fans will have their attention on the return of the UFC this weekend, but this sneaky-good boxing fight is not to be overlooked. Beterbiev brings his 19-0 record along with his WBC, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight belts into Saturday's main event against former WBA super middleweight champion Callum Smith.
Unexpectedly, Beterbiev is the betting favorite with a massive -450 price tag with Smith coming back at +320.
Odds according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Smith best bet
Total rounds over 9.5 -105
I think Beterbiev wins this fight with his particular style but at 38 years old he simply cannot be trusted at nearly -500. The champion's age paired with the fact that he is almost certainly looking past Smith for a big-money fight with Dmitry Bivol gives us a potential letdown spot for the undefeated phenom.
Beterbiev still owns a shiny 19-0 undefeated record with all of his wins by knockout, leading to a majority of the money flowing in on his knockout prop currently set at -220. Smith boasts an impressive resume in his own right with 21 of his 29 wins by knockout. The fight is being promoted as a high-stakes clash between two knockout artists, thus leading to an overwhelming majority of the money pouring in on the under.
Despite the signs pointing to the under, I still love the over as a prop bet. Beterbiev has slowed in his recent performances, with his four most recent wins coming in rounds 8, 2, 10, and 10, respectively. While the longer fights have less to do with regression and more to do with an increasingly strategic approach, Beterbiev is on the cusp of the biggest fight of his career. All he has to do is beat Smith to get a payday against Bivol, he does not need a show-stopping knockout.
Even with the wide odds, Smith is not an easy fight for the Russian and could arguably be his toughest title defense to date. But in Smith's lone career loss to Canelo Alvarez, the power coming back his way forced him to be much more defensive, leading to an uneventful decision loss. Smith even tore his bicep in the fight and went the full distance.
The public consensus leans towards the under but Vegas is not budging on the line. Smith will come out aggressively but all Beterbiev needs is one shot to halt his momentum and force him into survival mode. This is a win and advance position for the champion.
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.