By: Sean Crose
The 17-0 Artur Beterbiev put his WBC and IBF light heavyweight title belts on the line Saturday when he faced the 26-3 Joe Smith, whose WBO light heavyweight title belt was on the line, as well. The scheduled 12 rounder went down at the Theater at Madison Square Garden and was aired live by ESPN.
Beterbiev, who had stopped all previous opponents within the distance, was able to land early while Smith flicked out his jab in order to make the Canadian multi-belt holder uncomfortable. With that in mind, it looked as if Smith might want to employ head movement. Smith went down from a slip near the last minute of the round. An overhand right sent the New Yorker to one knee just before the bell. Smith got back to his feet quickly.
Beterbiev went for the kill in the second, his thudding shots beating Smith senseless. He dropped Smith, who had never previously been down, less than a minute into the round. Beterbiev then knocked him into the ropes before midpoint of the chapter. A final series of shots sent Smith wobbling, causing the referee to smartly halt the proceedings. Beterbiev now holds three of the four major world titles at light heavyweight. The one remaining belt belongs to Canleo Alvarez conqueror Dmitry Bivol. An undisputed divisional throwdown might be in each man’s future.