Fight Week: Artur Beterbiev, Joe Smith Jr. set for 175-pound title-unification clash

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FIGHT WEEK

Big punchers Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. will fight two unify three of the four major light heavyweight titles Saturday in New York.

Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs)

  • When: Saturday, June 18

  • Time: 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m.. PT (main event later in show)

  • Where: Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York

  • TV/Stream: ESPN, ESPN+

  • Division: Light heavyweight (175 pounds)

  • Rounds: 12

  • At stake: Beterbiev’s IBF and WBC, and Smith’s WBO titles

  • Pound-for-pound ranking: Beterbiev, No. 13

  • Odds: Beterbiev 6½-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets)

  • Also on the card: Robeisy Ramirez vs. Abraham Nova, featherweights

  • Prediction: Beterbiev KO 10

  • Background: WBA light heavyweight titleholder Dmitry Bivol had his moment when he turned back the challenge of Canelo Alvarez last month. Now it’s the turn of the two other 175-pound beltholders to show what they can do against each other. Beterbiev has maintained his knockout streak even as his opposition has improved, including victories over Oleksandr Gvozdyk in 2019 and Marcus Browne this past December. The Canada-based Russian is physically imposing but, as a former amateur star, he also knows his way around the ring. He isn’t as quick or athletic as some rivals but he’s an excellent all-around fighter. Smith also is a big, powerful 175-pounder who can end any fight with one punch. The Long Island product isn’t a particularly good boxer but he finds ways to win fights even when he doesn’t score a knockout, an indication that he has more ability than some might think. Only Sullivan Barrera (UD) and Bivol (UD) have been able to be beat him since 2010. He’s coming off a ninth-round KO of Steve Geffrard in January. He outpointed Maxim Vlasov to win the vacant WBO title the previous April.

 

ALSO FIGHTING THIS WEEK

JUNE 17

  • Saul Sanchez vs. Eros Correa, 10 rounds, bantamweights, Ontario, California (Thompson Boxing Facebook and YouTube)

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Artur Beterbiev fights through gruesome cut to keep KO streak alive