Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr: Live results, round by round updates, scoring, how to watch
Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr.: Fight prediction, undercard, odds, start time, preview for unification bout
Boxing's run of big clashes and multi-belt unifications continues on Saturday with what promises to be an all-action clash between WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. The bout goes down from Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theater on Saturday night (10 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KO) is one of the most feared punchers in the sport, having knocked out every man he has stepped into the ring with as a professional. He won the vacant IBF title in November 2017 with a knockout win of Enrico Kolling. Kolling nearly became the first man to take Beterbiev to the scorecards, but the relentless pressure of Beterbiev eventually caught up as he scored the knockout with just 27 seconds left in the fight.
Three fights later, Beterbiev added the WBC belt to his collection with a stoppage of Oleksandr Gvozdyk in a highly-anticipated fight that saw Beterbiev methodically break down an elite light heavyweight. He has twice defended his unified titles since the stoppage win over Gvozdyk.
Saturday, June 18, 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+: Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. undercard
Saturday, June 18, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+: Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr., 12 rounds, for Beterbiev's WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles and Smith's WBO light heavyweight title
"This is a very important fight for me. With regard to the place, it's not different for me. I'm more focused on the fight. I'm more focused on my opponent, not on the place. I always ask my boxing coach and my conditioning coach about how I'm doing. I ask them if it's less than I was doing two years ago. They tell me that I'm doing better than two years ago," Beterbiev said at the final press conference.
"If we compare it to the last one, this camp went very well. This camp was better. I want to thank my team, my conditioning coach, my boxing coach, all my team and all my sparring partners who helped me. We had a good camp."
In Smith (28-3, 22 KO), Beterbiev faces a fellow hard-hitting brawler who tries to use his power and grit to eventually catch his opponent and finish the fight.
It's been a long run to a world championship for Smith, who beat Maxim Vlasov by majority decision in April 2021 to win the WBO title. That was Smith's 30th professional bout. Prior to that, Smith had received a shot at WBA champion Dmitry Bivol in March 2019. Bivol dominated Smith in the fight, taking a wide decision that saw Smith only win two rounds at most.
"My level increases with the quality of opponent that I have in front of me. So, I think my growth is due to me increasing the level of my opposition and because we've been increasing our work, both mentally and physically," Ramirez said at the final press conference.
"We decided to take this fight because it would lead to a title shot. We all know who Abraham is. We all know the kind of record he has. So, a victory would put us one step away from fighting for a title. This was the step we wanted to take and the fight we were looking for. We weren't looking to make a fight that wasn't this one."