Beterbiev: ‘I want to be undisputed’

What we saw Saturday night at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden was the best 175-pounder doing what he has done his whole career, knocking people out!!

Unified 175-pound champion Artur Beterbiev(18-0, 18 KOs), the three-belt light heavyweight champion, stopped Joe Smith Jr. (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round. Beterbiev knocked down Smith three times during the one-sided beatdown, picking up Smith’s WBO belt and moving one step closer to becoming an undisputed champion at 175 pounds.

Beterbiev dropped Smith with a right hand in the closing seconds of the opening round, and in the second round, a Beterbiev left hook nearly sent Smith through the ropes. He rose to his feet, but the end was near—a pair of uppercuts, followed by a sweeping right hand. From there, referee Harvey Dock put a halt to the action.

“My coach told me it’s not too far until I become a good boxer,” Beterbiev said. “Joe’s a little bit open, and it was more easy for me to get him. {Both of us} have a good punch, and both tried to {connect} first. I’m lucky that I was first.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 18: Artur Beterbiev celebrates after defeating Joe Smith Jr, during their WBC,IBF and WBO light heavyweight Championship fight, at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Sitting ringside was British contender Anthony Yarde, who may be in line for a shot at Beterbiev this fall. Beterbiev’s preference is a fight with WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, who recently defeated Canelo Alvarez. 

“Unification fights are more interesting, more motivating,” Beterbiev said. “I prefer unification fight. I want to be undisputed.”

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has been on record in saying Beterbiev would travel to London to battle the Anthony Yarde in the fall, but the fight to make is Beterbiev-Bivol for all the belts. That fight would be the classic boxer versus puncher, which makes that fight so interesting!! Can Bivol stand up to Beterbiev’s power, or will Bivol outbox him? Hopefully, we’ll see that sometime down the line. 

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