Artur Beterbiev made a case for himself being the baddest man on the planet in the main event at Madison Square Garden, in the Hulu Theater on Saturday night. The Russian bear of a man Beterbiev took it to Joe Smith Jr, knocking him to the mat in the first, and finishing off the home towner in round two. It was a bad drubbing, the power of Beterbiev affected Smith early, and he couldn't get into gear.
The end of this light heavyweight title consolidation match came at 2:19 of the second. Beterbiev won by TKO, or, really, by mugging.
It's arguable that Beterbiev is the “baddest man on the planet,” he may not even be that in his own division, because Dmitriy Bivol would take exception to that description. Bivol holds a 175 strap, so hopefully that can get sorted in timely fashion.
Beterbiev spoke to Bernardo Osuna after. He was gracious, saying he got to Smith first. He thinks maybe his boxing has improved, technically, he stated. He was asked about fighting Anthony Yarde, who was present in the building. Does he want that, or to meet Bivol? Unification, he said, he likes the idea of being undisputed. “Thank you very much, everyone,” he called out to the remaining fans.
Top Rank put on the show, which ran on ESPN.
The Long Islander Smith, age 32, was 28-3 entering. He held the WBO light heavy crown, and his name was drowned out by cheers when Mark Shunock announced him. Beterbiev, age 37, came in 17-0, with 17 KOs. The Russian, living in Canada, held the WBC and IBF titles.
In the first, Smith went down off a right late. He'd started strong, but maybe a bit over eager. Beterbiev went side to side, countered, and then late in the round came on and pressed.
In the second, down went Joe again. And another one, the ropes held him up. And the ref waved it off while Joe was eating clean shots in center ring, his legs buckling. This, friends, was a good old fashioned NYC style mugging. Or bad, if you are Joe Smith.