Artur Beterbiev will beat Joe Smith Jr, predicts Eddie Hearn
By Brian Webber: Promoter Eddie Hearn believes IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev will emerge victorious in his three-belt unification bout against WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. on June 18.
Top Rank promoters Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) and Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) will headline live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
It’s a logical choice on Hearn’s part to choose two-time Olympian Beterbiev to defeat Smith. He looked impressive with his recent stoppage win over his WBC mandatory Marcus Browne last December.
For his part, Smith struggled to defeat Maxim Vlasov by a 12-round majority decision last year, and his only other fight since was against the little-known Steve Geffrard.
Hearn would like his fighter Joshua Buatsi to challenge the winner of the Beterbiev vs. Smith fight for all three belts. Buatsi (16-0, 13 KOs) is ranked No. 2 IBF, No. 2 WBA, No. 4 WBC and No. 6 WBO.
If Canelo Alvarez can avenge his loss to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol this year, he would be an option to fight winner Beterbiev against Smith at some point.
Hearn chooses Beterbiev over Smith
“Right now you have a very focused division because you have two champions. Well, you have three champions on the verge of becoming two, and the hits aren’t really there,” Eddie Hearn told the DAZN Boxing Show at about 175-pound champions Artur Beterbiev, Joe Smith Jr. and Dmitry Bivol.
“If one of them comes up, you have to grab it. It’s a unified championship, so somebody’s going to win,” Hearn said of the June 18 light heavyweight unification bout between IBF/WBC champion Beterbiev and WBO belt holder Smith Jr.
“There will only be one champion after this fight for these belts [IBF, WBC & WBO]and [WBA champion] Dimitri Bivol. But I believe Beterbiev wins this fightpredicts Hearn.
Hearn is in a tough spot trying to pick the right champion to face his fighter Buatsi this year.
What we saw from Buatsi last weekend in his win over Craig Richards is a fighter who needs more experience, but he won’t get it until he gets dumped with Bivol or winner Beterbiev- Smith.
Arum rules out an undisputed clash
“This is going to be a big, big fight between two hard-hitting light heavyweights,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told Fighthype of the three-belt 175-pound unification clash between Beterbiev and Smith Jr last month. next June 18.
“Bivol fights on the DAZN platform, and we are not interested in our fighters fighting on DAZN. They want to fight on ESPN, where they have the biggest audience.
This means that fans won’t get to see an undisputed matchup unfold at light heavyweight.
Of course, what could change Arum’s position is if Canelo can get his hands on the 175-pound WBA belt held by Dmitry Bivol. Unfortunately, Canelo is unlikely to beat Bivol in their rematch this year or in 2023.