Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. on Canelo-Fielding undercard on Dec.15
By Jim Dower: Artur Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs) will be defending his IBF light heavyweight title in a quick turnaround against Joe Smith Jr. (24-2, 20 KOs) on December 15 on the undercard of Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden in New York, according to Michael Benson.
With the punching power, skills and talent that Beterbiev possesses, Smith Jr. is going to be really up against it on December 15. This is easily the toughest fight of Smith’s career on paper. Although Smith Jr. has faced the likes of Sullivan Barrera, Bernard Hopkins and Andrzej Fonfara, those guys don’t compare to how Beterbiev is fighting right now. Smith Jr. stopped the 50-year-old Hopkins in the 8th round two years ago in December 2016.
Beterbiev’s co-promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing USA is serious about keeping him busy. Beterbiev’s last fight was on October 6 against Callum Johnson, and now he’s going to be back inside the ring just two months later on December 15. Beterbiev, 33, is going from being an inactive fighter with promotional problems to a fighter that is staying busy fighting all the time. This is a great move for the two-time Olympian Beterbiev joining up with Hearn and DAZN. Hopefully, it lasts for Beterbiev. Before his fight against Callum Johnson, Beterbiev had been out of the ring for almost a year since his fight against Enrico Koelling in November 2017. Before that fight against Koelling, Beterbiev had been out of the ring for 11 months. Beterbiev had rarely been fighting for the last three years of his career. He also was out of action from 2015 to 2016 with an injury.
Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr. is arguably a good enough fight to be the main event on the Canelo-Fielding card on December 15. It’s a good thing for the boxing fans that they’re getting a sure fire excellent fight between Beterbiev and Smith. It’s just too bad this fight wasn’t given it’s own card as the headliner. However, since Canelo vs. Fielding will be streamed free by DAZN on December 15, there will likely be a massive amount of boxing fans that will get a chance to see Beterbiev and Smith Jr. on the night.
If Canelo vs. Fielding turns out to be a mismatch, like many boxing fans think it’ll be, it gives Beterbiev a big chance to steal the show in his fight with Smith Jr.
Additionally, former three division world champion Jorge Linares (45-4, 28 KOs) will be on the Canelo-Fielding card against an opponent still to be determined. Linares wants to get in another fight before the end of the year, as his previous match against Abner Cotto last September ended in a quick 3rd round knockout for Jorge. Linares was barely hit at all in the fight.