Beterbiev adds WBO belt, eyes Bivol over Yarde

WBC and IBF light-heavyweight ruler Artur Beterbiev added the WBO version to his haul after a short night against previous titleholder Joe Smith Jr.

It was a case of ‘All hail, King Artur, the three-belt champion’ at the Hulu Theater.

Beterbiev stopped Smith Jr. in the second round on Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden. He knocked down Smith three times during the one-sided beatdown, picking up Smith’s WBO belt and moving one step closer to fully unifying the division.

Beterbiev

Beterbiev dropped Smith with a clubbing right hand in the closing seconds of the opening round. In the second, things got worse for the Long Island native, as a left hook nearly sent Smith through the ropes.

He rose to his feet, but the end was near. A pair of uppercuts, followed by a sweeping right hand, left referee Harvey Dock no choice but to stop the fight.

“My coach told me it’s not too far until I become a good boxer,” Beterbiev said. “Joe’s a bit open, and it was easier for me to get him. {Both of us} have a good punch, and both tried to {connect} first. I’m lucky that I was first.”

Artur Beterbiev
Mikey Williams

Yarde or Bivol

Sitting ringside was British contender Anthony Yarde, who may be in line for a shot at Beterbiev this fall. Beterbiev’s preference is a fight with WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, who recently defeated Canelo Alvarez.

“Unification fights are more interesting, more motivating,” Beterbiev said. “I prefer unification fight. I want to be undisputed.”

Bivol may have a mandatory to complete in the meantime, giving Yarde the opportunity, potentially on home soil in the United Kingdom.

For now, Beterbiev remains the second-best 175-pounder on the planet despite owning three world title belts.

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