Though he was somewhat close to a deal to fight rival champion Dmitry Bivol next, IBF light-heavyweight ruler Artur Beterbiev will next face Joe Smith Junior, at a New York venue to be determined. The fight will take place at a date to be confirmed in December, Dan Rafael of ESPN.com reports. Beterbiev, 13-0(13) gave us a thrilling, off the floor slugfest win on October 6, when he stopped a gutsy Callum Smith in the fourth-round (going down himself earlier in the thrilling battle) and fans might get more good action in the Beterbiev-Smith Jr. fight.
Smith Jr, 24-2(20) is best known for being the man who ended the career (finally) of the great Bernard Hopkins. Following up his big upset, first-round stoppage win over Andrezj Fonfara, the New Yorker stopped B-Hop in the eighth-round back in December of 2016, Smith knocking the 50 year old marvel clean out of the ring. Since then, Smith has suffered a broken jaw against Sullivan Barrera (a decision loss) and he has picked up one return win since (a quick KO win over Melvin Russell in June of this year).
Can Smith, a tough give and take warrior who has heart and power, dethrone the unbeaten banger from Russia? As with any Beterbiev fight, the action could end quickly. Yet to be taken the distance as a pro (Enrico Kolling came close, being KO’d in the 12th and final round last November in Fresno), Beterbiev might be the single hardest puncher in the 175 pound division – and that’s saying something considering the major punching talent that currently occupies the weight division.
Smith Jr can be expected to give it his best, his all, and as Smith proved (along with Jeff Page Jr, in his December 2014 fight with Beterbiev) the Russian slugger can be knocked down. So far, though, no man has really come close to keeping Beterbiev down. Smith Jr will likely be a big underdog here, but the action promises to be fun and fierce while it lasts.
Look for Beterbiev to score his 14th KO win in December, in yet another big fight that will take place in the most chock-full boxing month for many a year. Really, will we fans be able to catch ALL the action in the month of December!?