Callum Johnson knows he faces a massive challenge if he is to become IBF light heavyweight champion - but he is ready to ‘shock the world.’
The 33-year-old Bostonian will go toe-to-toe with Russian Artur Beterbiev in Chicago on Sunday morning, knowing it will be the toughest fight of his career.
“I haven’t watched a lot of tapes of his fights, but he’s an unbelievable fighter,” Johnson said. “He’s not considered to be the best in the world for no reason.
“He’s the world champion, and he was the best when he was an amateur. He’s an unbelievable talent, and a ferocious fighter.”
Johnson certainly isn’t overestimating the size of the challenge he will face in the United States as Beterbiev won gold at the 2006 and 2010 European Championships before stepping up to heavyweight at the 2012 London Olympics, reaching the quarter-finals.
As a light heavyweight amateur, Beterbiev won a silver medal at the 2007 World Championships and gold at the 2009 Worlds.
Known for his exceptional punching power, 33-year-old Beterbiev is undefeated since turning pro and became world champion a year ago when he dominated Enrico Kölling, landing 322 punches to his opponent’s 64.
But Johnson is no slouch himself. After claiming gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi he turned pro, and has won every single one of his pro bouts, claiming the the British and Commonwealth titles along the way.
“It’s going to be a massive test for me,” Johnson added.
“But I have the opportunity to shock the world, and that’s what I aim to do.
“It’s always been my ambition to fight for a world title, and I need to make sure I take the opportunity.”
Johnson is undefeated with 12 knockouts in 17 professional fights, and acknowledged the support he has received from the Boston community.
He said: “The people of Boston have been great to me, and I’d like to thank my sponsors – Stepright Orthotics, Acorn Taxis, Newton Fallowell Boston, Moore Thompson Accountants, and 100% Gym – everyone has helped me get to a world championship fight in the States.”