This Saturday night in the main event, Artur Beterbiev faces Joe Smith Jr. LIVE on ESPN. The lineal title is held firmly by Beterbiev (not in the Ring rankings), and according to the betting lines on paper, one would think the result is almost predetermined.
Sure, Beterbiev’s power is as real as it gets, and yes, Joe Smith Jr. has already lost to lesser opponents. However, how we get to the end result is what makes this matchup such a joy to watch in the ring rather than judging it on paper.
The old saying in boxing of “TV Fight” fits the bill 100 % because of the style clash. Both men lack a solid defensive game and instead will look to inflict damage on their opposition rather than scoring points in an effort to win the round. One can maybe assume of the two that Smith Jr. may have to worry more about the round-by-round scoring of the judges due to Beterbiev having stopped everyone on his ledger. These guys want to wear down and eventually hurt boxers, and both men have a track record of doing just that but let’s take a second to cover their weaknesses.
Beyond lack of defense which is a weakness that can be exploited, in recent outings, both men have items that can be pointed out as to why they will lose. Let’s start with the clear favorite in Beterbiev, whose glaring issue has been activity. Beterbeiv has only fought twice since October 2019.
Fighting only once a year in 2017 and 2018, Artur’s out-of-the-ring promotional problems of late have been cleared up. Also, it should be mentioned that Beterbiev was able to fight twice in 2021.
After activity being a problem somewhat anyways, Artur has looked lackluster against Adam Denies, Callum Johnson, and the scorecards were close versus a top-level boxer in Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Artur is not the caveman (although he looks like one kind of) that many think, and he does have some impressive skills on the inside while banging out the men he’s sharing the ring with.
Joe Smith Jr. is on a 4-fight winning streak since suffering two losses in close proximity to Dimity Bivol and Sullivan Barrera. Earning competitive victories over Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez is a good thing. His performance against Maxim Vlasov, one could argue, not only warranted a rematch, but Joe may have lost unofficially, of course. The overall point here is neither guy is coming into Saturday’s bout riding high off a major win.
Look for the rounds to be exciting and entertaining for as long as it goes. Something to note is Joe has injured his jaw in two fights, one of which rendered him not able to finish. Injuries happen in this sport but having a broken jaw twice and then facing a supreme puncher as Beterbiev raises a red flag at the very least. Both men should probably get more credit for having skills in the ring, especially when it comes to trench warfare.
This fight will be fought at close range as both men aim to inflict serious damage to the head and body. This boxing podcaster doesn’t see either boxer on the back foot, but if Joe Smith Jr. can use a steady jab with variety in the areas, it lands combined with circling Beterbiev and punching with one hand free on the clinch, he has a legit shot to pull off the upset. The battles will be won on both sides, but the war will have been one by the heavier puncher, and we all know who that is. It won’t be a nice walk in the park on a sunny afternoon with a breeze for Beterbiev, but his hand will get raised in the end.
My Official Prediction is Artur Beterbiev by late stoppage.
Side Note: Don’t forget to check out the co-feature to Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr. when Robeisy Ramirez takes on Abraham Nova.
Written by Chris Carlson, Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio