Hey! We’re back with more predictions, laying it all on the line for the glory of...I don’t know, we’ll probably forget who we picked in a week, and it doesn’t really matter anyway, but here we are. Staff picks for Beterbiev-Kalajdzic!
I like this matchup on many levels, and if the Kalajdzic we saw three years ago against Marcus Browne shows up, it could be a real good fight. But that was also the one and only significant fight Kalajdzc has had. He did beat Travis Peterkin on ShoBox five months after the Browne fight, but Peterkin wasn’t much and never fought again after taking his first L.
So it’s kinda hard to predict what we really have with Kalajdzic. He’s got diehard fans who remember the Browne robbery, but what more is on his record? Enrico Koelling and Ezequiel Maderna may not be world-beaters, but those wins for Beterbiev are better than anything Kalajdzic has done other than the Browne fight. I root for Kalajdzic to make good and think he’s a talented fighter, but I don’t see him winning this one. I think Artur lures “Hot Rod” into close quarters and takes him out in an otherwise competitive, entertaining fight, where Kalajdzic has some early success and shows he does deserve to be in this mix at 175. Beterbiev TKO-7
This one should be as fun while it lasts. Both fighters come to scrap, are capable of getting clipped, and throw with bad intentions. So the deciding factor for me in this fight is experience. While Beterbiev doesn’t have the the résumé his talent probably demands through age 34, his résumé is certainly much stronger than Kalajdzic, who’s only really fought one upper-echelon opponent. That opponent was Marcus Browne back in 2016, a fight Kalajdzic only narrowly lost on the scorecards. There’s no real shame in that, but this is his first real step back up since then, and it should make things difficult for Kalajdzic.
I think both fighters will try to stand their ground as much as possible as they attempt to make a violent impression on each another — at least until Beterbiev’s better technique and bigger punch puts a hurtin’ on Kalajdzic and Beterbiev goes in for the kill. Considering the styles, I don’t think we should be all that deep into the fight before that happens, so I’ll go with Beterbiev by mid-rounds stoppage in a valiant effort by Kalajdzic. Betebiev TKO-7
Patrick L. Stumberg
I’m glad that Kalajdzic is finally getting his shot. At the same time, I don’t think outclassing a green Marcus Browne three years ago is sufficient to prepare him for the most ferocious puncher in the division. “Hot Rod” has never gone past eight rounds, hasn’t fought at 175 pounds since 2016, and one of his two victories in that span came against 13-28 Brad Austin. Even three inches of height and reach aren’t enough to make up for a dearth of top-level experience, especially when you consider Beterbiev’s amateur pedigree.
Sure, Beterbiev’s fight with Callum Johnson last year showed that his chin isn’t indestructible, but neither is Kalajdzic’s. Even if you boil this down to “who lands first,” I’ll take the Olympian. Beterbiev catches him early. Beterbiev KO-3
As much as this fight has gone under the radar — scrapping with Canelo vs Jacobs for column inches — Radivoje Kalajdzic has had similar misfortunes out of the public eye since his 2016 contentious defeat to Marcus Browne. Beterbiev has passed all of his 13 professional tests with flying colours so far, but Callum Johnson highlighted how to hurt the 34-year-old in his latest outing. Kalajdzic is a live dog in this fight; if he can keep the IBF champ on the end of his long jab, Beterbiev may become frustrated, allowing the challenger to display his punching power in riposte. Kalajdzic will get success in this fight, but it’s likely a stoppage of the Top Rank fighter will be needed in Stockton. Beterbiev by decision
And the staff winner is...
Bad Left Hook will have live coverage of the Beterbiev-Kalajdzic show, which starts at 6:30 pm ET with the prelims on ESPN+, and continues at 10 pm ET with the main show on ESPN.