Sunday, February 05, 2023  |


Artur Beterbiev makes easy work of Joe Smith Jr., stopping him in two

Artur Beterbiev celebrates after defeating Joe Smith Jr, during their WBC, IBF and WBO light heavyweight title fight, at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

A crooked smile cracked Artur Beterbiev’s usual stoic veneer for a few brief moments after he stopped Joe Smith Jr. Saturday night in the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden.

The Ring’s No. 2 light heavyweight contender, Beterbiev (18-0, 18 knockouts) came into the ring with the IBF and WBC titles, and left with the WBO belt that Smith held, setting up a possible undisputed light heavyweight world championship with WBA titlist and Ring’s No. 1-rated Dmitry Bivol sometime later this year.

Beterbiev called this a business trip.

The beatdown he put on Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) was a business trip—business as usual for Beterbiev.

“I need to be with this belt for a couple of days,” said Beterbiev, the two-time Olympian reacting to being a unified titlist. “Joe is a little open and it was easy to get to him. Two fighters that both have good punch, and I was lucky to get first. I have two unification fights, I prefer unified. I prefer to be undisputed.”

All praise Beterbiev, who easily dispatched of Joe Smith Jr. under a deluge of rights to the head ((Photo by Mikey Williams-Top Rank via Getty Images).

In the opening round, Smith was the aggressor coming at Beterbiev, who landed a few rights that got around Smith’s guard. With 1:04 left in the first, Smith touched the canvas, but it was rightfully called a slip by referee Harvey Dock.

Though it was clear that Beterbiev’s clubbing rights were so forceful that they broke through Smith’s high-gloved fence. In the last 10 seconds, Beterbiev caught Smith coming forward with a right that caught Smith on the side of his head. Smith lost his balance and touched the canvas for a second time in the first, this time, however, it was a knockdown—the first knockdown in Smith’s career.

Smith made the mistake of going fire-for-fire with Beterbiev in the second, and once again coming forward, Beterbiev struck Smith with the same exact punch, a looping right to the side of the head, with 2:22 left in the second.

Dock reached a count of eight, and when he asked Smith if he was okay, Smith replied that he was. With 1:46 left in the second, Smith was down for a third time under a variety of shots, falling against the ropes.


Finally, with :46 left in the second, Beterbiev cranked up a right uppercut, and Smith went stumbling backwards. Dock saw enough and waved it over at 2:19 of the second.

Beterbiev was so dominant, he landed a total of 48/102 (47.1%) punches to Smith’s paltry 11/67 (16.4%).

In the co-feature, Cuban southpaw featherweight Robeisy Ramirez (10-1, 6 KOs) proved he has some power, when he knocked out previously undefeated Abraham Nova (21-1, 15 KOs) at 2:20 of the fifth round in a scheduled 10-rounder.

Ramirez set it up perfectly with a right hook, followed by the straight left.

“I think you’ve seen the result on my evolution and the hard work that I’ve done with my team, especially Larry Wade, my strength and conditioning coach,” Ramirez said. “It’s just the process. I’m trusting the process and the evolution and I want to thank everyone who came out and supported me tonight, all of the Cuban people.”

With :13 left in the third round, Ramirez beautifully connected on the ducking Nova with a left uppercut to the jaw that wobbled Nova and had him backing into a corner. Ramirez went smiling after Nova, pursuing him. As the bell sounded to end the round, Nova wanted to feign he was not hurt, getting up in Ramirez’s face.

It was a little too late to show any verve.

Once Ramirez had Nova where he wanted him, it became a boxing clinic.

Two rounds later, Ramirez ended it.

With :46 left in the fifth, Ramirez landed a short, straight on Nova that knocked him down and referee Charlie Fitch didn’t bother to count. The official finish came at 2:20.

“It was really about setting up that shot,” Ramirez said. “If you watched the entire fight, it was about working and tapping the body, so that opening was created. Once I saw it, he was dangerous, I knew he was a puncher, so I had to be careful, but when I saw my opening, I took it, and I finished the fight.”

Wendy Toussaint celebrates after defeating Asinia Byfield, (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images).

On the undercard, junior featherweight Floyd Diaz (5-0, 1 KO) won a six-round decision over Daniil Platonovschi (4-1, 2 KOs), while unbeaten former U.S. Olympian middleweight Troy Isley (6-0, 4 KOs) stopped Donte Stubbs (6-6, 2 KOs) at: 38 of sixth round in the scheduled six-rounder.

Junior middleweight Wendy Toussaint (14-1, 6 KOs) won an eight-round decision over Asinia Byfield (15-5-1, 7 KOs) and welterweight Jahyae Brown (11-0, 8 KOs) remained unbeaten with a six-round decision over Keane McMahon (7-3, 4 KOs).

Featherweight Bruce Carrington (4-0, 3 KOs) stopped Adrian Leyva (3-3-1, 1 KO) when Leyva could not come out about the fifth round. Welterweight Jahi Tucker (8-0, 5 KOs) scored a fourth-round TKO over D’Andre Smith (10-2, 5 KOs) at 2:27 in a scheduled six-rounder.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.


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