Artur Beterbiev fights Joe Smith Jr. in unification at 175 in June says Bob Arum
By Barry Holbrook: Bob Arum has revealed that a light heavyweight unification fight between IBF/WBC champion Artur Beterbiev and WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. will be taking place in June, and the winner will face Anthony Yarde in the UK in October or November if Canelo Alvarez doesn’t want it.
There will be a ton of interest from boxing fans in seeing the unbeaten two-belt 175-lb champion Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) and the hard-hitting Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs) squaring off in a three-title unification fight in June.
According to Arum, Canelo could potentially fight the Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr. fight winner. However, Arum isn’t assuming anything, as far as Canelo is concerned.
That being the case, the Beterbiev-Smith Jr. winner will then travel to the UK to defend against WBO mandatory Yarde (22-2, 21 KOs) in October or November.
Yarde, 30, is coming off a big fourth round knockout win over Lyndon Arthur on December 4th in London. The victory for Yarde avenged his 12 round split decision defeat at the hands of Arthur in December 2020.
Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr. in June
“There will be a unification battle between Joe Smith and Artur Beterbiev,” said Bob Arum to The Lowdown. “Artur Beterbiev has two of the titles [IBF & WBC], and Joe Smith has the WBO title, and I promised Frank that if a fight with Canelo doesn’t materialize right afterward, which is no reason for me to believe that it will, we’re happy to come over here, whether it’s Beterbiev or Joe Smith, to fight [Anthony] Yarde here in London sometime in the fall.
“We would have done the Beterbiev fight with Joe Smith earlier, but we have Ramadan. He’s a very religious Muslim, Beterbiev, so April is out, the month of April.
“And then he [Beterbiev] told me he would need time to train because he wouldn’t have been able to train during Ramadan, and that’s why that fight with Joe Smith will be at the end of June.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Canelo Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) elects not to fight the Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr. winner, as he’s said to be interested in trying to become the undisputed champion at 175.
You have to assume that if Canelo decides not to face the Beterbiev-Smith winner, he’s had second thoughts about the wisdom of going up to 175 to test himself against those big punchers.
While Canelo did defeat former WBO 175-lb champion Sergey Kovalev in 2019, the Russian fighter was a shell of his former self by that time in his career.
Also, Kovalev fought Canelo like he was sparring him for some reason, and he wasn’t sitting down on his punches like he always had. Canelo won’t be able to count on Beterbiev or Smith Jr. throwing shots without maximum power on them.
Beterbiev-Smith Jr. winner faces Yarde
“Then, at the end of October or November, the plan is to have the winner come over here and fight Yarde,” said Arum.
“Yeah, he’s the mandatory contender with the WBO, so he’ll be out again, we want him out in April to keep him busy, and then we want to get this big fight on,” said promoter Frank Warren about Anthony Yarde.
“You saw the true Anthony Yarde in his last fight. Whether the fights here or in the States, I want the fight here, and Bob said, ‘No problem, bring either guy [Beterbiev or Smith Jr] over there.’ That’s going to be a great fight. It’s going to be excitement.
“That fight is going to be exciting between Joe and Beterbiev. That’s going to be an excellent fight, and then I think, in my heart, we’re going to have a better fight. Two titles on the line, and it’ll be a war,” said Warren.
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