Beterbiev vs Smith? Say it isn't so, JoeWritten by Leroy Cleveland
IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev vs Joe Smith is all but a done deal for December, and might serve as an undercard bout for Canelo vs Fielding.
The Good News: Beterbiev, perhaps the most avoided fighter in boxing, found a good, quality opponent within 2 weeks of his most recent fight.
The Bad News: This isn't a fight Smith, who seems to have a lot of potential, should take at this moment.
Smith, of course, vaulted into prominence by defeating fight legend Bernard Hopkins in December 2016. In fact, Smith was the first and only fighter to KO the then 51 year old great.
The young New York City fighter had built some momentum but didn't fight again until 8 months later and then proceeded to lose a one-sided affair against Sullivan Barrera in July 2017, a strong Cuban with a distinguished amateur background and excellent skills.
Eleven months after losing to Barerra, Smith came back to KO a lower tier opponent and should probably engage in a few more such fights before stepping up again.
Smith is a good fighter, but it is unwise to put him in the ring with an opponent like Artur Beterbiev who is even stronger and more polished than Barrera.
Perhaps Team Smith was inspired by Artur getting floored in his last bout?
I'd like to see Smith reel off a few more wins and get some experience and momentum built before taking on another elite-level light heavyweight.
The Hopkins fight gave him juice with the boxing public but he wasn't ready for the powerbrokers. However, 4 or 5 more consectutive wins against fighters ranked between 10 and 30 would have kept his stock value elevated, made Smith a better fighter and would have most likely set-up an even bigger showdown with a belt holder.