Press Conference Notes: Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. Ready to Unify Light Heavyweight Titles

Press Conference Notes: Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. Ready to Unify Light Heavyweight Titles

Two of the light heavyweight division’s fiercest punchers will put three world title belts at stake in one of the year’s most anticipated showdowns. WBC/IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) — boxing’s only world champion with a 100 percent knockout ratio — will take on Long Island’s WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs) Saturday evening at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

At Thursday’s press conference, this is what the fighters and Top Rank chairman Bob Arum had to say. 

Bob Arum 

“At my age, this fight brings me back so many decades to when Top Rank promoted the leading light heavyweights in the world like Bob Foster, Matthew Saad Muhammad, John Conteh, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, and Marvin Johnson. The light heavyweight division has given people who follow boxing great thrills for as long as I’ve been promoting fights. Now we have this fight, which will go into the annals like all the great light heavyweight fights of the past and may even be the one that is the greatest.”
 
“Joe Smith is a tremendous fighter. He has a big heart. He has a lot of skills and a lot of punching power. And what can I say about Artur Beterbiev? He really epitomizes the ferocity that light heavyweights have been known for. Tremendous puncher. Big heart. A guy who refuses to lose. Nothing can be better than this. I predict that this fight will be considered the Fight of the Year for 2022.”

Artur Beterbiev

“This is a very important fight for me. With regard to the place, it’s not different for me. I’m more focused on the fight. I’m more focused on my opponent, not on the place. I always ask my boxing coach and my conditioning coach about how I’m doing. I ask them if it’s less than I was doing two years ago. They tell me that I’m doing better than two years ago.”
 
“If we compare it to the last one, this camp went very well. This camp was better. I want to thank my team, my conditioning coach, my boxing coach, all my team and all my sparring partners who helped me. We had a good camp.”
 
“We are both ready for this fight. I think it’s going to be a good fight. We will see. I can’t predict the future. I’m just a boxer.”

Joe Smith Jr.

“This is a huge opportunity. Beterbiev is a huge name in boxing. Everyone knows who he is at this point. He has two world titles, and I want those belts. I believe this fight is going to be great. You’ve got two big punchers, and I’m just excited to be in there with him. He’s a great name.”
 
“I’m fighting at the Garden. Home is not too far from here. All my fans are going to be here to support me or, if not, watch at home. I’m just glad to be here defending my WBO title and unifying two other belts.”
 
“I believe this guy is in his prime right now. I don’t think age has anything to do with it. I know he’s here at 100 percent and ready to go. I know I’m here fighting one of the best, so I trained at 110 percent. I made this camp a little longer. I made sure that I improved things that I wasn’t doing at my best. I stayed more consistent with my training, so I feel comfortable about this weekend.”

Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

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