Boxing: Artur Beitbiev’s incredible streak ended?

Don’t miss the fight between Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. on RDS2 and RDS Direct on Saturday at 10pm.


MONTREAL — Since the beginning of his career, Arthur Beterbiev has beaten every opponent he has faced before the limit. In so many fights, Christian Gauthier or no other announcer in the world had to maintain any suspense to announce the winner of a duel with a Montrealer of Russian descent 17 times.

From Christian Cruz to Marcus Browne to former world champions Tavoris Cloud and Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Bette Biev (17-0, 17 KOs) always found flaws that eventually broke them. This is the second longest streak of activity of its kind after 18 K.-O. In his many outings with Vergil Ortiz Jr., he has yet to get into a title fight.

But that incredible streak could come to an end on Saturday night, when the WBC and IBF light heavyweight champions take on the WBO champ in a unified bout Saturday night at the legendary Madison Square Theater in New York Joe Smith Jr.

Granted, Smith (28-3, 22 KO) has been stopped once, but it was in the 7th of his career against Eddie Caminero, who had his cheek broken in the second round. ) to stop. “It was a broken cheek. A pocket really. What do you want me to tell you?” Smith recalled in an interview with the New York Times columnistESPN Mark Krieger.

It was August 2010. A few years later, in July 2017, history repeated itself for Sullivan Barrera. With a win over Bernard Hopkins, Smith sent Barrera to the floor in the first round, only for the Cuban to then hit him firmly in the second.

“I knew right away that it was broken,” Smith said. But this time, the context is completely different. The shock wasn’t organized in a small, humble room in Brooklyn.No, it’s on the Inglewood Forum and at hyperbaric.

“I thought I wasn’t going to give up,” Smith continued. If this was my last fight, I would have done it with my two legs. I’m still here. I’m still here. »

The former blue-collar worker who now owns his own tree-pruning business is one of three sector champions. After defeating Maxim Vlasov, he joined Beterbiev and Dmitrii Bivol in April 2021. The majority decision of the judges did not come easily, and this victory did not come easily.

“At some point in the fight, I came back to the corner after a round and said [mon entraîneur] Jerry [Capobianco] I don’t know how I’m going to win,” Smith said in a recent episode of the documentary. blood, sweat and tears ofESPN.

“Broken cheeks, failure [à mon premier combat de championnat du monde] Facing Bivol…everything that comes to mind. It’s not true that I put up with it all and failed to become a world champion. I really want to be a world champion. »

However, these traps are not unique to Smith. Even though he never suffered defeat, Betebyev knew his defeat. Who doesn’t remember the horrific cut on his forehead in his final game against Brown at Bell Center last December?

As Beterbiev began to find his pace, an unexpected header turned his conflict into a bloodbath in the fourth round. Faced with the threat of an end to the duel at any time, the unified champions had to put pressure on their opponents. He ended up being suspended by the referee at the start of the ninth round to win.

The only thing that could be better than Beterbiev is the wear and tear of time. At 37 years old, he will inevitably see the day when his grades slowly decline…

“Why are you reminding me that I’m 37?” Betbiev asked mockingly at a news conference Thursday afternoon.I keep asking my coach [Marc Ramsay] and my fitness coach [André Kulesha] If I did it less than two years ago. They told me no, quite the opposite, I even did it over two years ago! »

“He looks really 100 percent,” Smith even confirmed. Age can’t catch up with him! »

By the way, this is the first time since the beginning of his career that Smith from Long Island has had the opportunity to The most famous arena in the world. There is definitely a factor to consider in his desire to finish a fight with two legs. For Beterbiev, who will also take first place at MSG, it will be a duel like no other.

“It was an important fight, but where it came from didn’t change anything for me,” concluded Beterbiev. Montreal, New York or anywhere else…it’s all the same!

“My goal is to be the best in the world and add a belt. That’s it! »

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