Saturday night brings a very intriguing fight to the table at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City as IBF-WBC champion Artur Beterbiev battles it out with WBO title-holder Joe Smith Jr. This is one of 10 bouts scheduled between Thursday and Sunday but easily the biggest of the lot. Also, the light heavyweight title is up for grabs here.
- Date & Location: Saturday, June 18th, 2022, at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City
- Time: 10 p.m. ET
- How to Watch: ESPN
Beterbiev comes into this fight as a massive favorite with odds around -900 at most sportsbooks, and for a good reason. He's 17-0 in his boxing career with a ridiculous 17 knockouts. The Russian last fought in December of last year, KO'ing Marcus Browne. He broke onto the scene many years ago after competing at the 2012 Olympics in London. Beterbiev first won the IBF light heavyweight title after taking out Enrico Koelling in a 12-round knockout, then managed to defend his crown against Radivoje Kalajdzic and Callum Johnson. Before beating Browne just before Christmas, he also defeated Adam Deines in February of 2021.
Smith meanwhile, owns a career record of 28-3 with 22 knockouts. He's been fighting at the pro level since 2009 and quickly made a name for himself with a pair of impressive wins against Andrzej Fonfara and the well-known Bernard Hopkins, knocking him out in eight rounds. While he did have a tough spell at one point, losing to Dmitry Bilov and Sullivan Barrera via unanimous decisions, he's since bounced back, winning four fights in a row, including a knockout of Steve Geffrard in January in his state of New York.
Artur Beterbiev vs Joe Smith Jr Odds
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Artur Beterbiev vs Joe Smith Jr Prediction
Beterbiev is up against an opponent that could cause some problems for him. The Russian is used to fighting guys who he can knock out, but Smith is a hard-hitter himself and won't go down easily. There is 45 KO's between these two boxers therefore you can expect a very entertaining bout here. However, Beterbiev clearly has more power than his opponent. That being said, he'll need to be more alert than usual against Smith, who has a lot of fire. His last fight against Browne saw the two get bloodied early on after an accidental clash of heads, with both exchanging blows. But, once the fifth round rolled around, it was clear Browne had no answers for Beterbiev, who wore his opponent down and ultimately knocked him out in the ninth round to retain WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles.
As for Smith, he certainly fed off the energy of the New York fans in his last bout in January in Verona, winning via TKO vs. Geffrard. This was definitely a dominant fight for the American, out-landing the challenger a whopping 233-81 in punches and also converting on 59% of his power shots. In total, Smith landed 665 punches to 463 for his opponent. Smith is a very powerful fighter who does have the strength to knock Beterbiev down, but he isn't as well-rounded. The Russian possesses more speed, smarts, and overall skillset. However, he is from Long Island, and you better believe lots of people from his city will be in attendance for this bout. That could certainly give Smith more motivation and support at the Hulu Theater as opposed to a Russian fighter from across the pond. It's also important to note Smith has yet to fight anyone with the pop and pure strength of Beterbiev.
Who is the best bet?
As you can see, Beterbiev's odds at all sportsbooks are far too low to even bet on. That's why a more specific pick is going to be the answer here. Both of Smith's last two losses were in the 10th and 12th rounds, respectively. He has the ability to wear the Russian down, and it could take time for him to figure Smith out. Again, the home atmosphere should definitely help him stay in this fight and perhaps even push it the distance. But, we're going to focus on two specific bets. The over 9.5 rounds at +125, which is a huge value. Also, riding Bertabiev to win in rounds 10-12 is also worth a flyer at +275. I personally don't see any way he actually loses this fight because overall, the 37-year-old is just a better fighter. It's plain and simple. Focus on the over 9.5 rounds as your main pick, though.
Pick: Over 9.5 rounds (+125)
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