(Quebec) “It’s not an invincible monster like people think. It has flaws. »

Those words are from Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs). The British boxer will face next August 19 at the Videotron Center the adopted Quebecer Artur Beterbiev, triple light heavyweight world champion, undefeated and pathologically unable to go to the end of a fight for the simple reason that he knocked out each of his 19 opponents.

To say that Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) is feared is an understatement. “Even though he’s always won, he’s not invincible, as some believe,” Smith repeated.

The calm tone, the dry build, the 6 ft 3 athlete was in Quebec City on Thursday to promote this gala which promises to be the most important in Quebec boxing for many years. Beterbiev, three-time light heavyweight world champion, will put his WBC, WBO and IBF belts on the line.

Callum Smith promised a good fight “between the two best punchers in the division”. “Its a grrrrreat fight,” the Liverpool boxer said in his scouse accent.

Already the tickets are flying, rejoiced the promoter Camille Estephan. The boss of Eye of the Tiger had announced a 5,000-seat configuration in the Remparts amphitheater. As of noon Thursday, 4,968 tickets were sold.

“I did not expect this response from the public. Really, I was expecting 5,000 or 6,000 tickets,” he said.

These figures recall the good recent years of Quebec boxing. Remember that Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins had attracted more than 16,000 fans to the old Colosseum in December 2010. They were 9,500 who came to the Videotron Center to see Lucian Bute against James DeGale in November 2015, and 7,800 in February 2017 for Lucian Stumbles against Eleider Alvarez.

Artur Beterbiev has just returned from the Caucasus, from Elbrouz more precisely. It is on this mountain of 5643 meters, the highest in Europe, that the Russian used to hold his training camps.

“Good opponent, good job for us and I want to do this job on August 19,” Beterbiev said in choppy but effective English.

His coach, Marc Ramsay, said Smith was his toughest career opponent. Beterbiev wasn’t sure.

” We will see. We watched videos. But it’s unclear what plan he will have, Beterbiev said. We will have to prepare three different strategies. We have to be ready for anything. »

Cutman Russ Anber has worked in the corner of both boxers for years. Heartbroken, he chose to step away from the ring on August 19 out of “respect” for the two men he considers almost friends.

“I’m almost happier being on TV than in a locker room, because it’s a very dangerous fight for both of them,” he said.

“Marc Ramsay said that would be their toughest opponent,” he added. He is right. That doesn’t mean the fight can’t end early. Yes, it can. But it’s still the most dangerous. »

According to Russ Anber, the English Compulsory Aspirant “has the assets and the confidence”. “There aren’t a lot of guys screaming Artur Beterbiev’s name. But he did, he recalls. He accepts this fight for much less money than he should have had. So he is confident in his abilities. »

At 33, Callum Smith is five years younger than Beterbiev. But the Englishman chose to move up in class after his only defeat, suffered at the hands of Canelo Álvarez at 168 pounds. The August 19 fight will be his third at 175 pounds. Questions therefore remain unanswered.

Fun fact: Smith’s brother, Paul, fought in the 2002 Commonwealth Games final against…Jean Pascal. The Quebecer from Laval won the gold medal.

The mayor of Quebec came on Thursday to promote the event. Bruno Marchand is delighted with the exceptional showcase that this gala, broadcast on ESPN, will offer.

“There are still people in England who don’t understand how they lost that fight! »