By Jim Calfa: Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. reportedly are close to a deal for a light heavyweight unification fight for the summer in New York. It’s an excellent fight with the winner in a solid position to get a fight against Canelo Alvarez if he chooses to come up in weight.
Mike Coppinger of ESPN is reporting the news of the fight between IBF/WBC 175-lb champion Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) and WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs) being negotiated.
Beterbiev vs. Smith = pure fireworks!
If the Beterbiev vs. Smith fight gets done, it’ll be a real war between these two huge punchers from the start to the bitter finish. The New Yorker Smith Jr. has recently expressed confidence in defeating the two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev.
Now, boxing fans can get a chance to see the Long Island, New York native backup his works against Beterbiev. The fight will likely be shown on ESPN. It’ll be up to Top Rank to decide whether they want to risk putting it on ESPN PPV.
Given that we’re seeing lesser fighters on PPV with steep price tags like the Keith Thurman comeback match this Saturday night against Mario Barris, it wouldn’t be a shock if Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr. winds up on ESPN pay-per-view.
“Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr., are closing in on a deal for a light heavyweight title unification this summer in New York on ESPN. Hold-up is on the Smith side. Star Boxing offered him approximately $1.5 million but he’s looking for around $1.8M,” @MikeCoppinger.
WBO 175-lb champion Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs) wants a bump up from the $1.5 million offered from Star Boxing to $1.8 million.
Smith is not pricing himself out
At least Smith, 32, isn’t asking for a King’s ransom with his request for additional money. $300K isn’t like the extra $5 million that former IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua reportedly wanted for his step aside deal that fell apart last week.
Smith is coming off a ninth round knockout win over little-known replacement opponent Steve Geffrard earlier this month on January 15th.
Beterbiev successfully defended his IBF/WBC 175-lb titles last month against his WBC mandatory Marcus Browne, stopping him in the ninth round in a bloodbath on December 17th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.
That was an exciting fight in which Browne looked great in the first four rounds, but then he fell apart in the fifth when Beterbiev began targeting his body.
The shots to the midsection from Beterbiev took away Browne’s legs immediately, causing him to back up against the ropes and take heavy punishment. It was a surprise that the referee didn’t step in and stop the contest in the fifth because Browne took terrible punishment from Beterbiev.
After the fifth, it was a slow beat down by Beterbiev, as he stalked Browne around the ring, hitting him with hard shots. Beterbiev was cut badly from a head-butt and had to fight with blood leaking everywhere. Browne was also cut, and his face was a mask of blood.