Report- Artur Beterbiev- Joe Smith Jr Unification Bout Next?
It looks like a long-rumored Light Heavyweight Unification World Title fight will finally be happening. This as WBC/ IBF 175 lb. titleholder, unbeaten Russian Artur Beterbiev and WBO Champion, Joe Smith Jr. of New York, are in advanced discussions to fight later this Summer for three pieces of the crown.
That’s according to a report from the ESPN boxing insider Mike Coppinger. He wrote Monday night that Smith it’s still haggling over his purse, but that a deal is imminent,
ESPN story on Beterbiev-Smith talks https://t.co/yD43dbAyo2
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) February 1, 2022
From Coppinger’s item,
At the moment, Smith is looking for a purse in the neighborhood of $1.8 million for the proposed ESPN main event; he was offered approximately $1.5 million by his promoter, Star Boxing, sources said.
The winner of the three-belt unification would be only one belt short of undisputed status at 175 pounds. Beterbiev, ESPN’s No. 1 light heavyweight, is the division’s lone unified champion; Smith and Dmitry Bivol hold the other belts.
Smith, 28-3, was last in the ring in December, when he scored a 9th round KO of late replacement Steve Geffrard in Verona, New York. Geffrard from South Florida, took the fight on eight days notice after Britain’s Calum Johnson had tested positive for Covid-19 nullifying him from the title shot.
Smith battled Covid-19 himself last Fall, which delayed him defending his title for the first time since he defeated Maxim Vlasov off last April for the vacant WBO world title.
As for Beterbiev he has 17 Knockouts in his 17 pro wins with the Russian having defeated American Marcus Browne by 9th round TKO, in his latest “stay busy” Unified title defense. Beterbiev, who now lives and trains out of Quebec, Canada, has also been in the conversations for legend Canelo Alvarez to possibly move back up to Light Heavyweight to fight him.
Alvarez defeated fellow Russian Sergey Kovalev by TKO in his lone Light Heavyweight bout in November 2019 winning the WBO title at that time. Alvarez quickly vacated the belt and it set into motion for Smith and Vlasov to meet for it.
As Coppinger wrote, Top Rank Boxing promotes both fighters in the U.S. and they would likely set the bout for New York in June or July.