(Quebec) Artur Beterbiev and Callum Smith are punchers capable of putting their opponents to sleep in a ring. They can have the same effect on their audience at a press conference. Forget big talkers, forget Conor McGregor, forget Jean Pascal.

At Thursday’s press conference in Quebec, the promoters did the heavy lifting. They “promoted,” as the late Régis Lévesque liked to say.

And the punches came courtesy of promoter Eddie Hearn, who predicted Callum Smith could be knocked out. to an “aging” Beterbiev, while accusing the Montrealer of Russian origin of having presented an atypical result during a doping test in December.

“If they trade and Callum hits Beterbiev, it will be a knockout. clear, dry in favor of Callum. Yes Beterbiev is a dangerous guy. But I think Callum is better at turning off the lights in one go,” said the British promoter, who recalls that the Quebecer has already visited the carpet in the past.

And Beterbiev, who will defend his three light heavyweight world titles for the third time on Saturday, is “aging,” Hearn added. The most decorated boxer in Quebec history will turn 39 in ten days.

Callum Smith, 33, had a superb career at 168 pounds, with several world championship titles, before losing to the legendary Saul Alvarez. Now at 175 pounds, he’s even more dangerous according to Hearn, who believes in a “50-50” fight that won’t go past the ninth round.

Then Hearn lists: Beterbiev is coming back from a jaw injury courtesy of surgery, he’s getting older and then there’s this story of an atypical doping test he suffered in December that “must be playing on his mind.”

The old hand Hearn was referring, in a perfectly calculated manner, to an article by American journalist Kevin Iole published on Wednesday. Beterbiev underwent an anti-doping test by the VADA agency on December 6. The samples showed an atypical result for growth hormones and a prohormone of testosterone, androstene – 5.

However, this was not a positive test, but rather an abnormal result. Beterbiev was subjected to three more tests, on December 15 and 21 and January 3. All three tests were negative. It was Beterbiev’s promoter, TopRank, who hired VADA to conduct doping controls ahead of Saturday’s gala.

“I think Eddie Hearn wants to make a storm in a teacup. It was not a positive test, it was an atypical result. Beterbiev tested negative, he did nothing wrong! » reacted the promoter of Saturday’s gala, Camille Estephan.

The Briton’s team does not intend to stop there. Smith’s lawyer contacted the VADA to understand how this atypical result could be explained, Eddie Hearn said.

“Legally we can’t do anything because it’s an atypical result, not a positive one,” says Hearn, who was made aware of the matter by the VADA in December. “But it worries me as a promoter of the other camp. »

“He did not fail a drug test and I hear this atypical result may be natural…” adds Hearn. “I’m not saying Artur Beterbiev is guilty but it raises questions, that’s all. »

This is how a somewhat gray press conference, with two taciturn boxers, changed completely. In defense of the two boxers, it is true that the fight does not need to be oversold.

Estephan expects 10,000 spectators on Saturday in Quebec. Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) puts his three titles (IBF, WBC, WBO) on the line. He is also the only world champion with knockouts. in all his fights. Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs) is also a puncher. In short, the recipe has everything you need.

The winner must also earn a unification fight against Russian Dmitri Bivol (22-0, 11 KO) in Saudi Arabia. Bivol is the WBA champion at 175 pounds.

“The source of Artur’s motivation is to improve, to go for another belt, to be the best. I don’t need to motivate him,” says Beterbiev’s coach, Marc Ramsay.

Ramsay did not want to make a prediction. Neither does Beterbiev. “I never make predictions,” the Montrealer simply conceded in broken English.

Camille Estephan did not need to be asked. “I think Artur is going to beat Callum in seven rounds,” said the promoter. Régis Lévesque would probably have appreciated it.