On Saturday heading into the unification bout between WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and WBO champ Joe Smith Jr., the selling point of the fight was a slugfest that was headlining Madison Square Garden in New York.
Both men are known for their power, promising a collision course between two sluggers. Instead, it was Beterbiev steamrolling Smith Jr., who got knocked down three times before the fourth one was enough for the stoppage, ending in just the second round that lead to Beterbiev being crowned a three-belt champion.
Beterbiev normally is not a fast starter, however, he came out the gates seeing red as he landed big overhand rights as Smith Jr. tried to counter with big punches of his own. But the Canadian’s right hand landed once again, bouncing Smith Jr.’s head hard enough for his knee to hit the canvas for the first knockdown of the night.
Smith Jr. took a minute in his corner between the rounds to collect himself but was unable to get his legs fully recovered as Beterbiev landed another right hand to score another knockdown.
Things went from bad to worse for the Long Island native as Beterbiev did not let up and continued to bully Smith Jr. to the ropes and began to land a flurry of punches that caused Smith Jr. to nearly go out of the round for the third knockdown of the fight.
At two minutes and 29 seconds of round two, Smith Jr once again was rocked with hooks and uppercuts that caused the referee to stop the fight. The call was no doubt just in time before Smith Jr could sustain even more damage as he was barely able to stand properly and had to even hold on to the ropes.
Now at 18-0 with 18 knockouts as a professional, he also adds to the WBO to his WBC and IBF collection. He now turns his attention to the final belt on his quest to undisputed, the WBA belt currently held by Dmitry Bivol who is coming off a huge upset win over pound-for-pound great Canelo Alvarez this past May.
In the post-fight interview, Beterbiev said, “I have had two unification fights, Unification fights are more interesting. I prefer a unified fight. I want to be undisputed.”
Beterbiev went on to add that he just wants to be “a good boxer” which is safe to say, he has exceeded those expectations as he is making his case as the 175 lbs king.