Callum Johnson says he has “no fear” of Artur Beterbiev as he closes on finalising a “dream opportunity” to fight for the fearsome Russian’s world title.
Negotiations remain ongoing but Johnson, the British and Commonwealth champion, is confident that it will be him that next gets a shot at the IBF king.
Beterbiev, with 12 stoppage wins from as many fights, has looked devastating so far in the paid ranks, despite frustrating periods of inactivity, and has become one of the most feared fighters in the sport.
With a mandatory due, few fighters have been willing to step-up and take on the Canada-based champion, but, now, number eight contender Johnson has accepted the challenge and is relishing the task ahead.
“These opportunities don’t come around every day and, when my promoter Eddie Hearn showed me the letter from the IBF offering the fight, I jumped at it,” Johnson exclusively told Sky Sports.
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“I’m in the game to be in the biggest and best fights possible. I’ve dreamt of winning a world title since I was a kid so I’m not going to turn down this chance because he [Beterbiev] is this apparent beast. I believe I am a beast as well and can beat him.
“I’ve boxed big, ferocious, Russians before in the amateurs and I know how they fight and what they do. I know they might not be as big and bad as Beterbiev but you have to be in it to win it and I’m confident I can beat anyone on my day.
“I know a lot about him, we was in the amateurs at the same time, I used to watch him and he’s always been the force that he is.
“At the same time, we’re all human, I don’t fear any man so all the talk of how big and strong he is, his power, it’s all very well and good, but at the end of the day, he’s human. I don’t fear him.”
Johnson, who stunned Frank Buglioni inside one round last time out, is unsure as to where negotiations currently stand and may opt to have a tick over fight in the meantime.
Johnson demolished Frank Buglioni in the first round to win the British and Commonwealth belts last time out
The hard-hitting Boston man says September has been earmarked as a potential fight date and is happy to travel across the Atlantic to take on the Russian knockout-artist.
“After my last win, I did initially want a European title shot, but suddenly I got this chance of a lifetime and I didn’t ever consider not taking it,” Johnson continued.
“I’m not totally sure of the current situation, I think Beterbiev may have a few promotional problems that need to be settled first.
“I’m just training and waiting for a date. They’ve spoke about September but it could be later on in the year, I leave that down to the team.
“I’d like to get a fight in before but it all depends on how negotiations go, when it takes place and what my team think the best thing to do is.
“Having boxed in the USA and Canada many times as an amateur, it’s not something brand new for me, I’ve been there and done it.”