Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. will be meeting up this Saturday night in a unification fight at light heavyweight in a match-up that figures to end by a knockout at Madison Square Garden.
Smith could be the biggest puncher Beterbiev will have faced during his career. Likewise, Beterbiev is the hardest hitter Smith will have faced, and we don’t know how he’ll react to getting hit by the two-time Olympian.
The 32-year-old Smith Jr. has a five-fight winning streak since losing to Dmitry Bivol in 2019, but he hasn’t faced anyone with Beterbiev’s ability during that run.
IBF/WBC 175-lb champion Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) will have his perfect record on the line against WBO champion Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) on ESPN and ESPN+. The card begins at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Beterbiev needs a win in this match to keep alive his hopes of becoming the undisputed champion against WBA champion Dmitry Bivol.
Beterbiev has recent wins over Marcus Browne, and Adam Deines. The fight with Browne was a blood bath last December with Beterbiev suffering a bad cut on his forehead in the fourth round after a clash of heads.
Beterbiev was like an angry bull after suffering the cut, and went after Browne relentlessly, battering him in the fifth and dropping him in the seventh and ninth round.
The contest was halted in the ninth after Beterbiev knocked Browne down with a series of hard shots.
It will be interesting to see how well Joe Smith Jr. holds up against Beterbiev because this is a big step up in class for the Long Island, New York native.
Smith struggled to defeat Maxim Vlasov last year in April, barely squeaking by with a 12-round majority decision to win the vacant WBO 175-lb title. Joe had to rally in the championship rounds to pull out the victory over the 35-year-old Vlasov.
Beterbiev is on another level than Vlasov, so Smith will need to be on his A-game to have a shot at winning this fight.
Smith has wins over Bernard Hopkins, Jesse Hart, Eleider Alvarez, Otis Griffin, and Andrzej Fonfara. Those are good fighters, but none on the level of Beterbiev.
Hopkins was 49 when he fought Smith in the final fight of his career, and he had no business taking this match-up at that age.
Robeisy Ramirez vs. Abraham Nova
In the chief support bout, two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez (9-1, 5 KOs) fights #4 WBO Abraham Nova (21-0, 15 KOs) in a 10-round bout at featherweight.
This is a fight that is an important one for the talented Cuban Robeisy, as if he wins, he’ll get pushed up the rankings in a hurry. At 28, Robeisy needs to be moved speedily because he spent a lot of time in the amateur ranks, and he can’t linger for years, working his way up to a title shot.