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Bob Arum to match Joe Smith Jr against Beterbiev next if victorius on Saturday

Artur Beterbiev

By Matt Lieberman: Bob Arum plans on matching Joe Smith Jr against IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in 2021 if the two win their next fights.

Smith (26-3, 21 KOs) is taking on Maxim Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) this Saturday night on February 13th for the vacant WBO 175-lb title in ‘The Bubble’ in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For his part, the unbeaten Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) is fighting next month in defending against Adam Deines (19-1-1, 10 KOs) on March 20th in Moscow, Russia. Both fights will be shown on ESPN.

It’s an excellent move by Arum to put Smith Jr and the two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev in with each other with three world titles on the line at 175, as these two are widely recognized as the biggest punchers in the division.

Although some boxing fans would prefer to have Beterbiev face WBA champion Dimitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs), it makes more sense for Arum to match the hard-hitting Beterbiev with Smith Jr.

Artur Beterbiev

Beterbiev vs. Smith is a fight that would be a classic war between two monstrous punchers with one-punch power. It’s a fight where both warriors would meet in the center ring and tee off until one of them is knocked out.

Beterbiev might be the hardest hitter in the light heavyweight division, and if he’s not, he’s very close. His ability to punch with huge power on the inside with his opponents makes him dangerous.

Canelo Alvarez opted to go in a different direction than Beterbiev when he moved up to 175 in 2019, which some boxing fans feel was a sign of respect for the Russian fighter.

It’s safe to assume that Canelo didn’t like his chances against Beterbiev, as he chose the easier target in the faded Sergey Kovalev.

Joe Smith Jr still has a hard fight in front of him this Saturday night against former cruiserweight Vlasov in Las Vegas. The highly experienced Vlasov, 34, has only been beaten by the best during his 16-year professional career.

Some boxing fans fail to realize that Vlasov has never been knocked out before, and he’s been in with a couple of fighters with power similar to Smith Jr.

Saturday’s fight may be decided on which of the two have the better boxing skills than by one of them getting a knockout.

Artur Beterbiev

Smith says he’s ready to go 12 rounds if he has to for him to get the win, and he does not just depend on his knockout power to get the victory. That’s a good thing for Smith that he’s not putting his whole focus on winning by KO because Vlasov is someone that might not go anywhere.

Bivol outboxed Smith two years ago in beating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in March 2019. But this is a fighter with unique boxing ability, and he’s considered the top pure boxer in the 175-lb division by many.

Vlasov doesn’t possess the same kind of talent that Bivol has, and e’s not as young, obviously.

Beterbiev is coming off a long layoff next month for his voluntary title defense against #6 IBF Deines on March 20th.

There may be some ring rust for Beterbiev, who hasn’t fought since his win over WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October 2019. Beterbiev would have fought by now, but he’s had a nightmarish time trying to get a title defense.

Initially, Beterbiev had planned on defending against his IBF mandatory Meng Fanlong in early 2020, but there were visa issues that got in the way of that fight.

Later, Beterbiev suffered a rib injury that led to his October 23 fight against Deines being postponed until January 30th. That match, too, had to be postponed after Beterbiev came down with COVID 19.




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