“Hot Rod” Radivoje Kalajdzic will challenge Artur Beterbiev for the IBF light heavyweight title on Saturday night, live on ESPN from Stockton, California, and the 27-year-old challenger says he’s fully prepared to cash in on his opportunity, feeling that Beterbiev is a fighter he can exploit.
“I’ve watched enough of Beterbiev and know that he’s a strong fighter, but he just comes forward and my plan is to counter his aggressiveness,” said Kalajdzic. “His résumé is pretty thin and he did get dropped in his last fight. There’s a lot that I can take advantage of.”
Kalajdzic (24-1, 17 KO) is best-known for an extremely controversial loss to Marcus Browne in 2016, a decision bad enough that Browne, the A-side fighter was booed fighting in what was essentially his backyard, was booed when the scores were read.
Fight fans have certainly been hung up on that one on Kalajdzic’s behalf, but he’s not.
“That’s all in the past. At the time, I wanted an immediate rematch against Browne, but now I just want to come out victorious on Saturday night,” he said.
Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KO) presents a major challenge for anyone, but he’s also now 34 years old and was dropped in his last fight, a blazing guns battle with Callum Johnson last October in Chicago. But Kalajdzic doesn’t fear his power or his style.
“Now that my chance to become a world champion is here, I’m ready to take home the belt. It’s a life changing opportunity and I’m up for the challenge. I’ve never been hurt in my career and I don’t plan on giving Beterbiev that chance either,” Kalajdzic said.
“The light heavyweight division is very hot right now and coming out victorious on Saturday night will lead to even bigger fights. I can’t wait to get into the ring and bring the belt home.”
Promoter Lou DiBella believes his fighter has every chance to pull the upset.
“‘Hot Rod’ has a done a tremendous job of staying focused over the last couple of years and has earned this opportunity to fight for a world title,” said DiBella. “Beterbiev is a very strong and tough champion but on Saturday night, ‘Hot Rod’ will show the boxing world that he belongs with the top fighters of the light heavyweight division. There could very well be a new champion come Saturday night.”
Bad Left Hook will have live coverage of Beterbiev-Kalajdzic on Saturday, with prelims starting at 6:30 pm ET on ESPN+, and the main card at 10 pm ET on ESPN.