Boxing’s trend of unification showdowns will continue on June 18 when WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev faces WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. The fight will be held at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The fight gives Smith (28-3, 22 KO) what he said he wanted immediately after beating Steve Geffrard in January. The win over Geffrard, who had stepped in on short notice, was Smith’s first defense of his WBO title. He’d won the belt in April 2021 with a majority decision over Maxim Vlasov.
Smith is now on a four-fight winning streak since losing his first shot at a world title when he was decisioned by WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, the man who holds the fourth world title in the division and takes on Canelo Alvarez in May.
Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KO) is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport and the only current world champion to have won every one of his professional bouts by knockout.
Beterbiev became IBF champion in November 2017 with a knockout of Enrico Kolling. Three fights later, he added the WBC title to his collection when he stopped Oleksandr Gvozdyk in a thrilling battle between two heavy-punching stars. Now, three fights after winning his second title, Beterbiev looks to add a third.