What was supposed to be a competitive fight, turned out to be a pure slaughter with IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) knocking out WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round to become a three-belt champion at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Smith came out in a reckless manner in the first round and wound up getting dropped by Beterbiev at the end of the round after getting caught with a stiff shot that put him down on one knee. Joe didn’t look hurt, but the shot was hard enough to stun him.
In round two, Smith still hadn’t learned his lesson and came charging out of the blocks, swinging wildly, as if he wanted payback for his knockdown in the previous round.
The two-time Olympian Beterbiev took advantage of Smith’s foolish aggression by knocking him down twice with short, accurate shots that had a lot of power behind them. Beterbiev didn’t throw with much hand speed, but the punches were solid and well-placed.
Smith staggered across the ring after getting nailed by a hard right hand to the head from Beterbiev. Referee Harvey Dock took one look at the condition the 32-year-old Smith was in at the moment and halted the fight. The time of the stoppage was at 2:19 of round two,
Moments after the spectacle was over, Beterbiev threw cold water on his promote Bob Arum’s idea of him making a voluntary defense against #1 WBO contender Anthony Yarde, who was in the audience, by saying, “I want indication” fight against WBA champion Dmitry Bivol.
That had to make Arum unhappy, as he wanted to bring Beterbiev over to the UK to fight Yarde in London in October because it would bring in good revenue.
Instead, Arum will need to reach across the aisle and work with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn to put together a dual network fight between Beterbiev and Bivol, who fights on DAZN. Beterbiev fights on ESPN, so it won’t be a one-network show as it would be if Beterbiev chose to face Yarde.
It’ll be interesting to see if Arum is able to get Beterbiev to change his mind about wanting WBA light heavyweight champion Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) next instead of the easier option, Yarde.
Fighting Yarde wouldn’t even be sporting because he’s a limited fighter that was knocked out by an over-the-hill 36-year-old Sergey Kovalev in 2019. Yarde’s fans say he’s improved, but it doesn’t look like it. He’s still the same flawed fighter he was when he was knocked out by Kovalev.