Boxing is back in New York this weekend as WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev looks to add another belt to his collection, this time in the form of WBO title holder Joe Smith Jr. Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KO) is one of boxing’s most exciting knockout artists, as he has stepped into the squared circle against 17 challengers, and all 17 have been stopped before the final bell, and this time around the unified champion takes on someone who is not afraid to go toe to toe with him.
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Now at 37 years of age, Beterbiev is fresh off his knockout win over Marcus Browne, who was stopped in the ninth round. Despite his age, his style is that of a steamroller who will wear opponents down with brutality to the face and body. Though Beterbiev lacks the proper experience with his opposition being dispatched early on or not having the quality of fighters one would warrant being a unified champion, Smith Jr. is the perfect opponent to solidify his claim as king of the 175 lb division.
Joe Smith Jr. (28-3-22 KO) is an established commodity in boxing, being respected and loved by fans for his heart and fighting spirit that he has shown many times over his career. Unlike Beterbiev, he has proven himself against big-time players, most notably being the man known to have retired the legendary Bernard Hopkins. Though ‘The Common Man’ Smith Jr. has not come out on top in some of his fights, most notably losing by decision to WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, he did gain plenty of experience fighting on the big stage.
Whoever wins this high stakes match, will surely have their target set on the last piece of light heavyweight gold in Bivol’s WBA belt, who is coming off a huge win against pound-for-pound great Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, or have to see WBO mandatory Anthony Yarde later this year.