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Joe Smith Jr.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc
Ike at the Fights

Beterbiev vs Smith Preview

by Ike Feldman
Updated On: June 16, 2022, 6:08 pm ET

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The HULU Theater inside Madison Square Garden will be rocking this Saturday night as local powerhouse Joe Smith Jr. will be facing dangerous Russian, Artur Beterbiev, for the lionshare of the light-heavyweight belts.

-750 RUS Artur Beterbiev (17-0: 17 KOs): 6’0”, 175-pounds – 73” Reach – 37 y/o

     >WBC + IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion, 2012 Olympian, 100% Finish Rate, Big Power Hooks

+550 USA Joe Smith Jr. (28-3: 22 KOs): 6’0”, 175-pounds – 76” Reach – 32 y/o

     >WBO Light-Heavyweight Champion, Huge Power Right, Granite Chin, High-Level Experience

WHO WILL WIN?

These two warriors have shown to be unbreakable forces. Beterbiev has never been finished in his nine-year career, while it’s been close to a decade since Smith tasted defeat via KO. In his 2019 fight against Dmitry Bivol, WBA light-heavyweight champion and recent Canelo Alvarez victor, the Russian was outscoring Smith, but the Long Island, NY native kept chopping away and almost ended the fight with a monstrous overhand right that wobbled Bivol in the final seconds of round 10. Luckily for Smith, he won't be facing the tactical genius like Bivol this time around. Instead, he will go head to head with Beterbiev, a warmonger who searches for the finish with constant suffocating pressure and no wasted movement. I believe that the march-down style of Beterbiev will play right into Smith’s game, which will result in fireworks for viewers.

It’s hard to picture a boring fight between these two home run-hitting juggernauts, especially with the belts being on the line and with the world’s most famous combat sports arena as a backdrop. Though the Money Line would say differently, this fight is a hard one to pick. For the huge plus money combined with his sledgehammer of an overhand right, I got Smith to pull off boxing’s biggest upset since last fall’s Joshua-Usyk fight where Oleksandr Usyk was a huge dog at +300. Smith Wins.

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FIGHT GOES THE DISTANCE? +230 YES, -330 NO

Though Beterbiev has never seen the final bell in his career due to the destructiveness of his fighting style, the Russian has never fought an opponent with the combination of Smith’s length, reach, and cold-blooded toughness. Also, while Beterbiev tends to be the hammer in his fights; stalking down his counterparts - a wiser approach would be to not meet Smith head-on. If the Russian native tries to stalk Smith, he may be met with a thunderous counter right hand.

Beterbiev throws shorter and compact strikes, and because of his stocky frame, he gets inside his opposition's shell to then go to work with precise power shots. I see Beterbiev trying to download Smith’s timing, but even after throwing/landing many heavy punches that’d normally end his opponent’s night, Beterbiev will gas out a bit which will force this fight to a decision – the first in Beterbiev’s career. Fight Goes The Distance.

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Ike Feldman

Ike Feldman is not only a longtime combat sports practitioner, but he is also an Edgy broadcaster that has been covering and handicapping combat sports on a high level since 2016. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @IkeFeldman to get unrivaled MMA and Boxing content, insight and entertainment.