Three light-heavyweight world titles will be up for grabs this Saturday, as Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr meet in a main-event contest in New York City.
Smith Jr, meanwhile, enters the Madison Square Garden Theater as WBO champion and with a professional record of 28-3 (22 KOs).
The American, 32, must do what no other fighter has done and hand Beterbiev the first loss of the Russian’s pro career this weekend if he is to retain his gold and collect the 37-year-old’s titles.
Last time out, Beterbiev stopped Marcus Browne in December for a ninth-round victory, while Smith Jr also won in Round 9 of his most recent fight, beating Steve Geffrard in January.
When is it?
The fight will take place on Saturday 18 June at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York City.
The main card will begin at 2am BST (6pm PT, 8pm CT, 9pm ET) on Sunday 19 June, with ring walks for the main event set for approximately 4am BST (8pm PT, 10pm CT, 11pm ET).
What has been said so far?
Joe Smith Jr: “You never know in boxing. The money is there one minute and it could be gone the next,” Joe Smith told Top Rank Boxing. “You have to make sure you put on a great show every time you fight and give it your all. One loss can change everything One loss and you’re back at the beginning,” Smith said.
“He thought he can beat me and wants another belt, but I’m just so hungry,” said Joe Smith of Beterbiev. “He’s got two belts on the line that I want, so it’s going to be a great fight.
“There are days when you don’t want to do it, but you have to persevere and get it done. That’s what makes a champion,” said Smith. “I love being the underdog. I prefer to be the underdog because it makes me want to push harder and stronger.
“It makes me want to prove everyone wrong. With every fight I’ve gotten better and better. Just being there with different guys and learning from them, and getting the experience of being there with other champions. It’s been great .
“I believe I am now the best light heavyweight in the world,” said Smith.
Artur Beterbiev : “Don’t try to find a small flaw in this program. We don’t have that,” says Beterbiev’s trainer Marc Ramsay. ‘He never arrived too late in advance. He is never late. He is really focused on his job. For him, this is a professional, and he looks at all the little details.
“If sleeping in isn’t good for him, he’s not going to do it. End of story and that is in every aspect of boxing. For a coach, it’s all very good, because you don’t have to look over all those little things.
“At the moment every decision is an orientation towards performance. He is the type of guy who likes to communicate with the coach. He likes to sit down and ask why. If you explain it to him and it makes sense, then he will follow. He won’t fight that,” Ramsay said.
“He has never reached a ceiling, he is a very special person, a very special athlete,” said trainer Luc-Vincent Ouellet about Beterbiev. “It’s all about boxing.”
‘I don’t want to hurt him’ said Beterbiev about his sparring partner.
“When I do preparation, I don’t think about anything,” said Beterbiev. “I have to do something, not just think and that’s it. I try to do my best and show it.”
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