Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. Fight prediction, odds, start times, preview for unification bout

The boxing world continues its run of major clashes and multibelt unifications on Saturday, with an all-action match between Joe Smith Jr.

Artur Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. Fight prediction, odds, start times, preview for unification bout

The boxing world continues its run of major clashes and multibelt unifications on Saturday, with an all-action match between Joe Smith Jr. and Joe Beterbiev, WBC and IBF light-heavyweight champions. On Saturday night, the bout will be broadcast from Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theater at 10 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Beterbiev (17-1, 17 KO), is one of the most fearsome punchers in the sport. He has knocked out all the men he has stepped into a ring with since he was a professional. With a knockout victory over Enrico Kolling, he won the vacant IBF title. Kolling almost became the first man who took Beterbiev to scorecards but the relentless pressure from Beterbiev finally caught up to him and he scored the knockout in 27 seconds.

Three fights later Beterbiev added the WBC title to his collection by stopping Oleksandr Gozdyk. This was a highly anticipated fight in which Beterbiev meticulously defeated an elite light-heavyweight. Since the win over Gvozdyk, he has defended his unified titles twice.

"This is an important fight for me. It's the same for me with regard to the location. I am more focused on the fight. I am more focused on my opponent than the place. My boxing coach and conditioning coach always check on how I am doing. I ask them if my current performance is better than it was two years ago. "They tell me that I am doing better than two year ago," Beterbiev stated at the last press conference.

This camp was a lot better than the previous one. This camp was much better. My team, my conditioning coach and my boxing coach, as well as all my sparring partners, were all very helpful to me. It was a great camp.

Smith (28-3, 22KO): Beterbiev takes on Smith, a fellow brawler who attempts to use his power to catch his opponent and win the fight.

Smith won the WBO title by beating Maxim Vlasov in a majority decision in April 2021. It was a long road to this point. This was Smith's 30th professional fight. Smith had previously been given a chance to fight Dmitry Bivol, WBA champion in March 2019. Smith was defeated by Bivol in the fight. Smith won only two rounds.

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"I think this guy is at his peak right now. Age doesn't play a role in this. I know he is 100% ready and available to fight. Smith stated, "I know I'm fighting the best so I trained at 110 percent." I made this camp longer. I worked harder to improve things I was not doing at my best. So I felt more comfortable this weekend because I was consistent in my training."

Beterbiev and Smith will be contested, but Bivol's presence is a significant factor in the division. Bivol defeated Saul "Canelo Alvarez" in a major upset. He has the highest name value and perhaps the greatest skill in the division. To crown the undisputed champion of light heavyweight, Bivol could win Saturday's fight.

Robeisy Ramirez, a highly-regarded prospect, will be returning to Saturday's co-feature bout. Veteran Abraham Nova will be a test for the Cuban native. Ramirez has a record of 9-1 since his pro debut in 2019, which was a loss. He's beat every man he has faced since then with relative ease.

"My level rises with the quality and number of opponents I have before me." Ramirez stated at the last press conference that I believe my growth has been due to my increasing opposition's level and because we have been increasing our work, both mental and physical.

"We chose to fight this fight for the title shot. Abraham is a familiar name to all of us. We all know what kind of record he holds. A win would make us one step closer to a title fight. This was the fight we desired and the step we needed to take. We didn't want to fight in a different one.

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

Smith is a puncher. Smith is a skilled fighter who has serious power and is a strong underdog at +500. Beterbiev is an excellent fighter, and Smith should be able to keep him off of him. Smith must find a way to keep Beterbiev away from him while still allowing his powerful punches to flow. This is a huge task, though, because Beterbiev excels at getting in close and mauling with both his head and body.

This approach to fighting is what has made Beterbiev so successful. He makes opponents fight on the inside where he has the advantage and then he breaks down their bodies until they have nothing left. Smith is strong enough to last for 12 rounds, but not enough to be able to stop him. Pick: Artur Beterbiev via TKO9

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