Three belts and one step removed from light-heavyweight supremacy are at stake June 18 when WBC/IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev takes on WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
The card is promoted by Top Rank in association with Star Boxing. With a combined knockout percentage of 87%, the odds are high this fight doesn’t go the distance. Beterbiev has never heard the final bell in his nine-year career, boasting a perfect KO rate of 17 wins and 17 stoppages. Smith has a near 80% KO rate in his 28 wins, most notably his 2016 win over Bernard Hopkins that ended the legendary fighter’s career.
The 10-round featherweight co-feature spotlights Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez taking on unbeaten Abraham “El Super” Nova.
“Beterbiev versus Smith is one of the very best fights that can be made in boxing, two huge punchers fighting at Madison Square Garden in what will be an electric atmosphere. Whoever comes out on top will be the true king of the light heavyweight division,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Robeisy Ramirez has developed into a sensational pro, and he will have his hands full against a tough, undefeated kid in Abraham Nova. The winner will be in line to fight for a featherweight world title.”
Beterbiev’s last outing was a brutal ninth round stoppage of Marcus Browne. Bloodied by a clash of heads, Beterbiev weathered the damage and sent Brown to the canvas twice. He sports a perfect 5-0 record in title fights… all by knockout.
“I look forward to the challenge ahead of me. Joe Smith Jr. is a worthy champion, but I am coming to Madison Square Garden to add another world title to my collection,” Beterbiev said. “This fight will get me one step closer to becoming undisputed champion.”
In his second world title attempt, Smith won a close decision over Maxim Vlasov in 2021. Smith retained his WBO strap in January with a ninth-round stoppage over late replacement Steve Geffrard.
“I am extremely excited and focused on this task I have ahead. Facing Beterbiev is huge,” said Smith. “It is going to be a fight that fans remember forever, with two of the biggest punches in boxing today facing off. This opportunity is a dream of mine to accomplish. Fighting with three titles on the line is one step closer to becoming undisputed.”