In a surprisingly easy victory, IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) obliterated a hapless WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. (28-4, 22 KOs) by a second-round knockout on Saturday night in a three-title unification clash at Madison Square Garden in New York.
In the first round, Beterbiev landed a nice shot near the end of the round that sent Smith down. It was more of a flash knockdown than a case of Smith being hurt. Nevertheless, it would be a foreboding of things to come.
Beterbiev looked like a shark in the second, tearing into the still aggressive Smith, knocking him down two times before the referee Harvey Dock stepped in the halt the contest. Beterbiev staggered Smith with a shot that led to the referee wisely stopping the fight.
The time of the stoppage was 2:19 of the second.
In the fight of the night, featherweight contender Robeisy Ramirez (10-1, 6 KOs) destroyed Abraham Nova (21-1, 15 KOs) by a fifth-round knockout. The two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba landed a powerful left to the head of the previously unbeaten Nova in the fifth round in a shot that flattened him. The time of the stoppage was at 2:20 of the fifth.
The win for Robeisy was his tenth consecutive since losing his pro debut by a narrow four-round decision against little-known Adan Gonzales, a loss that he avenged later.
Robeisy’s knockout set a high bar for the main event fighters Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. to try and surpass if they want to be the shining light on tonight’s card. Robeisy defeated Shakur Stevenson in the 2016 Olympics, leaving him crying but oddly without tears.
Unbeaten featherweight Bruce Carrington (4-0, 3 KOs) defeated Adrian Leyva (3-3-1, 1 KO) by a corner stoppage after round five. Carrington, 25, had too much talent for the overmatched Leyva.
Welterweight Jahi Tucker (8-0, 5 KOs) had too much firepower for D’Andre Smith (10-2, 5 KOs) in stopping him in the fourth round. The referee Shawn Clark stepped in the stop the fight after the 19-year-old Tucker hurt Smith in the fourth round. The time of the stoppage was at 2:27.
Unbeaten super-bantamweight Floyd Diaz (5-0, 1 KO) looked sharp in defeating previously undefeated Daniil Platonovschi (4-1, 2 KOs) by a lopsided six-round unanimous decision. The 19-year-old Las Vegas native Diaz won by the scores 60-54, 60-54, and 59-55.
Young 23-year-old 2020 Olympian Troy Isley (6-0, 4 KOs) defeated Donte Stubbs (6-6, 2 KOs) by a sixth-round knockout in middleweight action. Isley dropped Stubbs in the fourth and sixth rounds of the contest. The bout was halted at :38.
Super welterweight Wendy Toussaint (14-1, 6 KOs) beat Asinia Byfield (15-5-1, 7 KOs) a one-sided eight-round unanimous decision. The scores were 79-73, 79-73, and 79-73.
Welterweight prospect Jahyae Brown (11-0, 8 KOs) used his superior firepower and technical ability to defeat Keane McMahon (7-3, 4 KOs) by a six-round unanimous decision. The judges scored it: 60-54, 58-56, and 58-56.
“Beterbiev fought a lot of guys, but not a lot of punchers like Joe Smith, who fought with a broken jaw, who answered the bell in all kinds of situations, and yet, Beterbiev is the favorite for a reason here,” said Max Kellerman on Max on Boxing.
“If he wins because Smith has already fought Bivol [and lost], the winner of this fight, at any rate, has Dmitry Bivolout there if they’re interested. We know Joe Smith is willing to make those kinds of fights.
“If Beterbiev is and we get Beterbiev, the tank, the come forward guy that breaks everyone down, the guy in the Russian system that everyone feared vs. Bivol, the master boxer, who just boxed circles around Canelo. Both are undefeated for all the marbles at light heavy.
“There’s a good chance that happens, but first he has to get through the power of Joe Smith, and for as long as this fight is going on, not only will you see action, but you’ll be at the edge of your seat because it could end at any moment,” said Kellerman.
“Max, you got to understand that when you have two power punchers, two pressure fighters in the ring, when you look at the history and look at George Foreman, Ron Lyle. You can look at Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, also when he fought against Joe Frazier, these typical fights don’t last more than six rounds,” said Bradley.
“The tank fighter, the Joe Frazier kind of guy when he fights the George Foreman, and I’m not saying Joe Smith is George Foreman, but stylistically, he’s got to get through the danger zone in order to get mid-range, short-range where Beterbiev excels,” said Kellerman.
“He’s got to get through the long-range bombs of Joe Smith. He may have to absorb some of those coming in, and if he can, what does Joe Smith do? He can’t just let Beterbiev come at him the whole fight. He can’t just move. He’s got to figure out a way to make the tank go backward,” said Kellerman.
“He’s going to have to fight a little bit and box a little bit. He has to mix up his attack,” said Tim Bradley.
“If you like boxing, especially violent boxing, don’t miss the light heavyweight unification fight,” said Kellerman.
IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. fight tonight in a 12-round unanimous match at Madison Square Garden in New York. ESPN and ESPN+ will be showing this outstanding Top Rank promoted event tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET.