Fight fans are assuming they are in for some solid entertainment tonight, because light heavyweights Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr have a track record. The Russian has two straps he’s defending and the Long Islander has one and he’s wanting to snatch the two from the 37 year old. Smith is 32, the underdog in this one. We asked two analysts working under the ProBox TV banner their take on the 175 pound showdown unfolding at the Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater in Manhattan on Saturday, June 18, and on ESPN.
Roy Jones Jr of ProBox TV knows a little something about light heavyweights, right?
“The best thing about the Beterbiev v Smith fight is they’re both big pun in hers,” says the former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight world champ who has a stake in ProBox. “Both of them have pretty OK chins. But, big punchers are usually subject to big punches! Artur has the most experience, amateur wise, he’s faced a lot better and different opposition than Joe Smith. Joe is also a puncher, who’s faced a lot of good opposition in the pros. In my opinion, Artur’s the better guy for the job, but it’s really gonna be who can hit who first. If Joe can land a good one first, he can take Artur down, because Artur’s been down a couple times. If Artur hits Joe Smith first, he can take Joe out, because Joe’s been down. I think it’s pretty much a ‘You pick ‘em,’ I would lean more toward Beterbiev, because of the experience. But you can’t count Joe Smith out, because he’s a hell of a puncher!”
Paul Malignaggi won straps at 140 and 147; the boxer turned ProBox TV analyst shared his thoughts on this Top Rank presentation.
“Two of the biggest punchers in the sport,” said the fighting pride of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who calls the ProBox bouts with Mike Goldberg, Jones and Antonio Tarver. “This is the most fun fight in this weight class. Beterbiev the more experienced guy with the higher boxing IQ and pedigree but Smith has been an underdog his whole career, he'll be undaunted once again,” Paulie said. “While I do feel that this fight could be dynamite from the start I'm more leaning towards the notion that both guys know how strong the other guy is and they'll start cautiously. Beterbiev has been down in his career so he's not some cyborg type who isn't human. Having said, that it's why I feel this fight starts slow before Beterbiev eventually ends it in the second half of the fight. Smith’s punching power makes him live but Beterbiev has more dimensions.”
Antonio Tarver also gave his three cents. He likes Smith's counterpunching edge, and also noted that Beterbiev is 37, Smith is 32, so maybe age plays a factor. “I believe this is going to be one of Artur Beterbiev's toughest fight,” said the ex ring great, who chops it up every Monday on the ProBox podcast, which is growing immensely in the eyeball snagging department.
If it goes past 8, he continued, that might mean Smith has figured out how to avoid Beterbiev's power…and could be in good shape to have things go his way late. He leans to Beterbiev, but calls Smith a live dog.