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Callum Johnson: Sergey Kovalev is weakest champion

Callum Johnson is eyeing a world title fight
Image: Callum Johnson is eyeing a world title fight

Callum Johnson says WBO title-holder Sergey Kovalev - who fights Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez next month - is the weakest of the four light-heavyweight world champions.

Johnson, who knocked out Sean Monaghan in March, was unable to fight WBA champion Dmitry Bivol this autumn due to a shoulder injury.

But the 34-year-old is eyeing a second shot at a world title fight next year, following his defeat to IBF champion Artur Beterbiev in 2018.

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Johnson displayed his power in a stoppage win over Sean Monaghan

Johnson said: "I think Kovalev is the weakest out of the four, to be honest, he is the weakest of the champions. Bivol is probably next.

"Not in terms of skill - I think Bivol is maybe the best in terms of boxing skill. But I don't think he's the strongest and most powerful. He could probably make super middleweight as well.

"He's got very nice footwork, and he does everything very well and technically, to the eye for a boxing purist he's fantastic and he really is very good but I don't think he's got the devastating power that everyone thought he had at one point.

"I don't think he's got that many gears, I think he is what he is. He's a top-level boxer but I think he can be upset and he could be roughed up and I do think I have the tools and the strength and the power to do that."

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Is Sergey Kovalev past his best?
Image: Is Sergey Kovalev past his best?

Kovalev comes up against Canelo in Las Vegas on November 2, and Johnson expects the Mexican to come out on top.

"I think Canelo [wins]. I think Kovalev has seen his best days.

"Don't get me wrong, it's a tough challenge for Canelo because he is jumping up two weights and Kovalev is still very, very good.

"But I think if anybody can beat him, now the time is right to beat him and we know how good Canelo is so it's a fight I'm looking forward to watching."

Beterbiev takes on WBC champ Oleksandr Gvozdyk in Philadelphia on Friday as two of the division's four belt-holders go head to head.

Dmitry Bivol
Image: Dmitry Bivol could have fought Callum Johnson this autumn if not for injury

Johnson is backing his conqueror Beterbiev to beat the Ukrainian, who he rates as better than both Kovalev and Bivol.

He explained: "The fight tonight is the best two, I think we'll find out who is the best tonight.

"I think Beterbiev wins. I hope he wins! [That] might be a little bit of bias but if I'd never boxed Beterbiev I still think I'd be picking him to win because he is a very strong fighter and I just see him being too strong.

"He's also a very good boxer, he's got the amateur experience, the amateur pedigree, just like Gvozdyk, [but] I just expect Beterbiev to win.

"It could be a close fight. It's a genuine 50/50. But I think Beterbiev is going to come out on top."

Having missed out on the chance to fight Bivol due to injury, Johnson admits he might have to test his fitness with a fight early next year before setting his sights on one of the reigning world champions.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "I think I'm going to have another fight before I get offered one again, but I'd jump straight into one, because I'm a fighter and I want to fight for a world title again. Realistically I'm going to have to have a meaningful fight and win that before I get my chance again.

"I'll fight whoever next year, whoever, whenever, wherever.

"Whatever makes sense, whatever is going to be good for my career, I'm happy to do."

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