The Smith family fight dynasty faces what is in peril of being its last stand this Saturday night.
Callum, the youngest and effectively the last of the four Liverpool brothers still standing in the prize-ring, takes his tilt at a second world title in ice-cold Quebec.
Awaiting him, like a grizzly bear in the Canadian forests, is the most decapitating puncher in boxing’s brutal light-heavyweight division.
Not for nothing is Artur Beterbiev known as the Beast From The East.
Born in Dagestan to become a golden boy of Russian amateur boxing, this human sledgehammer has flattened all his 19 opponents since moving to Canada as a late-turning professional.
Callum Smith faces a fearsome prospect in the undefeated Artur Beterbiev this weekend
Smith takes his tilt at a second world title but his family’s fight dynasty is perhaps now in peril
Beterbiev’s modus operandi is carnally simple: hunt down the foe and take him out. He is a fearsome prospect to face.
The punching prowess is described by Bob Arum, his veteran Hall of Fame promoter, as ‘the most powerful I’ve seen from any light-heavyweight in all my years.’
The three other members of the remarkable Smith quartet will be at ringside, as has always been the custom when one or other fights.
They are the only familial foursome to have all been British champions. Their combined total of UK, Commonwealth, world and other assorted belts tallies now at more than 30.
The elder two, Paul and Stephen, are retired having fallen gallantly just short at the highest level against world-class champions.
Liam, their natural-born street fighter and former WBO light-middleweight champion, is considering his future after being stopped in his rematch with Chris Eubank Jr in September. He is 35.
Which leaves Callum to carry the flag, into the Russian bear’s lair.
Much is being made of Beterbiev turning 39 later this month. So much that his promoter Eddie Hearn predicts: ‘Callum is an even bigger puncher and it will be him knocking Artur out, with a left hook counter.’
The other members of the Smith quartet will be ringside (left-right: Paul, Liam, Stephen, Callum)
Beterbiev’s modus operandi is carnally simple: hunt down the foe in the ring and take him out
Hearn is not alone in suspecting that age is catching up with Beterbiev. Fingers are pointed at how Anthony Yarde gave him a good half-a-fight last year.
Yet, just like one other British challenger so far Callum Johnson, the Yarde bird was abruptly knocked off his perch. And as almost everyone in this hard game knows, the punch is the last element of the repertoire that an aging fighter loses.
Whisper it but when Callum went against another big hitter – Mexican legend Canelo Alvarez – the first punch had such an impact that he fought on the back foot and mostly up against the ropes for the rest of an overwhelming 12-round decision against him.
By deploying those negative tactics, he did last longer than brother Liam who was knocked out in the ninth back when Canelo was still a light-middleweight.
Most recently the searchlight for hope has shone on Beterbiev having previously postponed this fight to this weekend so as to undergo surgery for dental decay. And there is no denying that Beterbiev has relied on a granite jaw as well as iron fists in his destructive career.
But while his attacking style has left him open to the occasional knock down, thus far he has always got up to exact vengeance.
Not that the man himself talks in such violent terms. As a devout Muslim married with four children he too is very much the family man. He also has a quick sense of humour and says with a smile: ‘I’m a nice guy. I’m not a monster. Well, not outside the ring.’
Such sentiments have not prevented him intimidating most of his opponents. Smith’s outside chance depends on how he much he is prepared to gamble against a man who inflicts as much damage to the body as he does to the head.
In the risk and reward department, the prize for the winner will be to carry the WBC, IBF and WBO titles into a mega-millions fight for the undisputed world light-heavyweight championship in Riyadh against WBC king Dmitry Bivol.
Smith’s outside chance depends on how much he is prepared to gamble against The Beast
Every little helps when it’s a family affair. Callum, as have his brothers in their fights, will again have the word AUTISM emblazoned on his shorts. It is as message of support for their sister who was born with that condition.
Win or lose those siblings will remain unchanged in their modesty. As Liam says: ‘It has always been about family. It always will be, since we all know that boxing is a very short career.’
Whether Callum, as he approaches his 34th birthday, can prolong this family affair a little longer is in the hands of The Beast.
Beterbiev v Smith will be televised live on Sky Sports late this Saturday night.