Beterbiev – Smith Jr = 11 days to go before June 18th battle
By Dan Ambrose: Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. have 11 days to go before they meet on June 18th in their light heavyweight unification fight on ESPN+ at the Hula Theater in New York.
For both fighters, it could be the toughest one of their careers because they’ll be dealing with an opponent with major power, and they’ll need to go through a lot of adversity to win.
The winner of the Beterbiev vs. Smith fight has interesting fights ahead of them against potentially Canelo Alvarez, Dmitry Bivol, Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, Anthony Yarde, and Joshua Buatsi.
WBO 175-lb champion Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) believes he’s the best fighter in the light heavyweight division, but he’s got a lot of proving to do before he can reach that point.
The 32-year-old Long Island, New York native, Smith already lost to Bivol in 2019 in a fight that was a one-sided affair, and it’s difficult to know for sure if he’s improved since.
Beterbiev = seek & destroy fighter
“The first time I met Marc [Ramsay] was 2012 when I visited Montreal for the first time,” said Artur Beterbiev to Top Rank Boxing’s Blood, Sweat, and Tears part 1.
“The first time I saw him live was in the world championship in Chicago in 2007,” said Ramsay about Beterbiev. “I was already clear that he could be a good professional.
“He was winning amateur bouts with a professional style. This is very rare and Artur already had that style.”
“Marc knows professional things, he has the experience and a lot of championships fights. It’s new for me and I want to learn this, everything,” said Beterbiev.
“This is everything any boxing fan has asked for. What they want is this guy. He’s coming to destroy, he’s Tyson,” said trainer John Scully, talking about Beterbiev. “Everything he’s throwing has bad intentions all over it.”
“He doesn’t want to be on cruise control. He doesn’t want to be in that zone where, ‘Now, I’m a world champion and I can relax about it,” said Ramsay in talking about the mindset Beterbiev has.
“He doesn’t need you to tell him, ‘You got to work harder, you got to get in shape,'” said Scully about Beterbiev. “He doesn’t need anyone to tell him. He’s a driven animal.”
“He’s very focused on Joe Smith. Of course, we want all the belts, this is what we target. This is nothing personal. We just want all the belts,” said Ramsay.
Joe Smith Jr. continues to improve
“Titles motivate me, I think so,” said Beterbiev. “I always like titles.”
“It’s a little awkward, but it’s just me and him,” said Joe Smith Jr’s trainer Jerry Capobianco about it just being the two of them training at the Heavy Hitters gym.
“We just sort of got used to it, I guess. It was even before the pandemic, but the pandemic sort of cemented it this way a little bit. It works.”
“It works for me because he’s focused 100% on me. He’s not focused on other fighters and what they’re doing,” said Joe Smith Jr. on his coach Capobianco. “He’s just focused on me and what I need to do to win against the opponent that I’m facing.
“So, we just come in here together and there’s no distraction because it’s just me and him in the gym, and the bags,” said Smith Jr.
“After the Bernard Hopkins fight, we went from zero to 1000 miles per hour, and Joe’s world got really big very fast,” said Capobianco about Joe Smith Jr’s eighth-round knockout win over boxing legend Bernard Hopkins in December 2016.
“You know, I just knocked out Bernard Hopkins, and he wasn’t cocky or bragging about it but he had to settle in because next was [Sullivan] Barrera,” said Capobianco.
“I learned a lot in that fight by facing a world champion, and I learned things that I need to do differently and work on,” said Smith Jr. about his 12-round unanimous decision loss to WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol in March 2019.
“So right after the fight, we got back in the gym and we turned things around from that point.”
“Everything was on the line for the Maxim Vlasov fight because you get a second shot at a world title,” Capobianco said about Smith.
“There was a point in the fight where I went back to my corner and I said to Jerry, ‘Man, I don’t know if I’m going to make it through this one. He’s really getting to me,” said Smith Jr. about his fight against Maxim Vlasov in April 2021.
“‘Joe, you got to step this up. We’re never coming back here again. This is it,” said Capobianco on what he told Joe Smith during his grueling fight against Vlasov.
“After that moment, all the stuff I went through with the broken jaw, losing to Bivol, all that stuff was running through my head,” said Smith about what he was thinking about when things were looking bleak against Vlasov.
“I’m like, ‘I’m not doing that again. I’m going to pull through this, win this fight and become world champion,'” said Smith.
Beterbiev came through in the clutch
“My mom always wants to see what I do in training. I post on Instagram,” said Beterbiev. “She says, ‘Why you do this? Why did you kill yourself? It’s not good for you.'”
“I met Jerry when I was 18. I think I was preparing to fight in the Golden Gloves,” said Smith Jr. “So, he helped me out training for that, and he told me, ‘Give me a few years, and I’ll make you a world champion.’
“I looked at him and laughed, and said, ‘Yeah, right.’ I didn’t believe it could happen, but I stuck with him and listened and he got me here.
“Defending my title for the first time was one of my biggest fights to me because I really got to defend it to prove that I am a world champion and look good doing it,” said Smith about his fight against little-known Steve Geffrard last January.
“I just tried to keep the pressure on him, and I figured him out and eventually got him out of there. So I did it and I’m happy for it,” said Smith.
“He got through it, and he got it under his belt, and now we’re moving on to unify,” said Capobianco about Joe Smith’s first title defense of his WBO belt.
“We wanted to start that fight slow and put gradual pressure on Marcus Browne,” said trainer Marc Ramsay about Beterbiev’s title defense last December against his WBC mandatory Marcus Browne.
“With the cut, we have a danger that they could stop the fight. It was a serious cut. It wasn’t like this. It was like that. Blood was going right to his eyes.”
“They took us to the doctor, and the doctor said, ‘One more round,'” said Beterbiev about his fight against Browne.
“When he came back and sat down, I said, ‘You do your job and you focus,'” said Ramsay on what he told Beterbiev during the Browne contest.
“Hitting with the head is not legal,” said Beterbiev. “I think it’s not good to do that. He made me angry.”
“Whatever happens in a boxing fight, it’s 12 rounds. There’s no panic there, especially for a fighter like him,” said Ramsay about Beterbiev. “He’s a very complete fighter. He can box, he can punch, he can put pressure on you, he can counter punch.
“I can ask him anything just like this, and he’s going to bring to the table something different.”
“For me, it’s very important to do what we prepared for in the gym to do this in the ring,” said Beterbiev. “It’s not changing your plan. You have to follow your plan.”
“He didn’t fight like the cut was bothering him. He didn’t try snd protect the cut. He just seek & destroy,” said Scully about Beterbiev’s cut.
“He knows where we are, how it happened, and how he has to conduct himself to end that fight,” said Ramsay in talking about Beterbiev’s last contest against Browne.
“It’s very clear when you look at that fight, you can see that change. He became a little bit like an animal and just broke down Marcus Browne.”
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