CALLUM SMITH is aware of how big his task is on August 19 when he attempts to become the first man to defeat Artur Beterbiev.

The two big punching light-heavyweights meet at the Videotron Centre, Quebec City in Ontario with the champion going for his 20th straight win.

Most of the Russian’s victories, all inside the distance, have been akin to a slaughtering such is the power behind his punches and the substantial damage he inflicts.

Beterbiev has fought British opposition twice before in Callum Johnson and last time out against Anthony Yarde. The Londoner transformed himself on the night into a legitimate top ten contender. Ultimately, he fell short and was stopped in the eighth round having gone toe-to-toe with the champion.

Smith 29-1 (21) earned his opportunity with a four-round thumping of Mathieu Bauderlique in Saudi Arabia last August. In fact, when the Liverpudian steps in with Beterbiev it will be one year and one day since he last fought.

“It’s the fight I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s exciting,” Smith told the Ringside Toe2Toe podcast.

“He had a good win last time against Anthony Yarde. He’s obviously very heavy-handed. He’s a fighter I respect, and I rate massively. I think he’s a very good fighter. I knew of him [for] a long time since we were amateurs and I know the task at hand. It’s a tough fight but I think timing plays a big part.”

The 33-year-old says he will be a different prospect to that of the one who lost to Canelo Alvarez on points at super-middleweight in December 2020.

“I believe physically I’m probably at the best I’ve ever been. I feel really good at 175 [lbs]. I think a lot of people are too quick to judge the best version of him [Beterbiev] against the version of me that fought Canelo. You’re not gonna get that version of me at 175. I believe I’m a lot better fighter. I’ve got a different training team which I feel I’m improving [with] all the time. It’s a fight I like my chances [in].”

Smith and his trainer Buddy McGirt watched Beterbiev versus Yarde in January. The ex-champion turned coach pointed out that a “good jab causes him trouble”.

Beterbiev has proven that it is not just good fundamentals that give you opponents a chance. On two occasions in his career, we have seen the seemingly unstoppable 38-year-old visit the canvas. Once by Jeff Page Jr in 2014 and four years later when Smith’s former gym-mate Callum Johnson nearly pulled off the impossible. On the night both men had an appetite for destruction but it was Beterbiev’s power which proved the more effective.

Smith was asked if that fight proves there is a method to overcoming Beterbiev or was it too long ago to matter?

“Both. It’s a long time ago, obviously. Stylistically it’s a completely different fight but if someone else can hurt him I fully believe I can. To see him hurt it does register and he was down before that in his career, so he’s been down twice. He’s good, he’s tough, he’s big, he’s strong but he’s not invincible. He can be put over and I like to think if I was in that position I’d try and get the job done.”