NEW YORK — Artur Beterbiev hasn’t met his match but, and Saturday at Hulu Theater at Madison Sq. Backyard was no completely different.
Joe Smith Jr. entered the ring with a measurement benefit, power and a tremendously highly effective proper hand, however none of it mattered. Beterbiev was too exact, his punches too damaging.
His underrated ring IQ allowed him to ship among the sport’s most-precise punches, main to 3 knockdowns and a second-round TKO victory for Beterbiev. He picked up a 3rd gentle heavyweight title to cement himself as one of many two 175-pounders on the planet.
The opposite, in fact, is fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol, who upset Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s former pound-for-pound king, in Might to retain his gentle heavyweight title.
A summit assembly between Beterbiev and Bivol wouldn’t solely crown an undisputed gentle heavyweight champion, but additionally signify among the best matchups boxing can ship.
Naturally, this being boxing, that battle is not on the quick horizon. As a substitute, Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) is lined as much as defend his three titles towards England’s Anthony Yarde, the WBO obligatory challenger. There is no deal in place, however the battle is being deliberate for Oct. 29 in London, sources inform ESPN.
“I’ve two unification fights. Unification fights are extra fascinating, extra motivating,” Beterbiev mentioned. “I choose unification battle. I need to be undisputed.”
That bout should wait, in fact. Yarde, who was ringside, seems to be subsequent up. And like Beterbiev, Yarde is a harmful puncher who proved in his lone title shot that he belongs on this stage.
Yarde appeared a punch or two away from placing away Sergey Kovalev once they met for a lightweight heavyweight title in 2019. As a substitute, Kovalev stopped Yarde the next spherical. Yarde needed to journey to Russia for that bout, however this time, he’ll battle at residence towards one other big-punching Russian in Beterbiev.
“That [Kovalev fight] ready me so much, particularly going to Russia as nicely,” Yarde, who was ringside, advised ESPN on Saturday. “You possibly can’t get higher preparation than that. I used to be youthful then, mentally and bodily. … I believe I’ve come a great distance with expertise and I am la lot extra ready mentally.”
Whereas Beterbiev-Yarde is an interesting motion battle — and a giant occasion within the U.Okay. — it is actually not the battle all of us need to see at 175 kilos. That matchup stays Beterbiev-Bivol for all of the marbles at 175 kilos.
Bivol and Beterbiev have been in talks for a lightweight heavyweight title unification this spring in St. Petersburg earlier than the previous snagged the Alvarez battle. Now, the undisputed championship matchup may have to attend till at the least the primary half of subsequent yr, and even perhaps longer.
Alvarez determined to go in the direction of a 3rd battle with Gennadiy Golovkin on Sept. 17 relatively than train the rematch clause for a second bout with Bivol. Nonetheless, it is nonetheless doable Canelo will pursue the encore encounter on Cinco De Mayo weekend in 2023, which might push an undisputed title battle that includes Beterbiev till at the least the autumn of subsequent yr.
Beterbiev turns 38 subsequent January and continues to be in search of a real main battle that matches his immense expertise. He is on the cusp of the pound-for-pound checklist and is boxing’s solely champion with a 100% KO document.
He confirmed as soon as once more on Saturday that he is without doubt one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers on the planet. A battle with Yarde will current one other alternative for Beterbiev to ship a scintillating efficiency in a slugfest, however that is not the battle Beterbiev — or boxing followers — need. And Beterbiev deserves it earlier than it is too late.