Bob Arum thinks Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. will show respect to each other’s power early in their light heavyweight title unification fight Saturday night.
The 90-year-old promoter expects that caution to last all of “a round or two.” Then he anticipates the two hard-hitting 175-pound champions to engage in entertaining exchanges that’ll lead to one of the more memorable fights in recent history.
Arum told a group of reporters after a press conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden there’s “no way” their 12-round bout will go the distance.
“Joe Smith is a tremendous fighter, has a big, big heart, a lot of skills, and a lot of punching power,” Arum, whose company co-promotes Beterbiev and Smith, said during the press conference. “And what can I say about Artur Beterbiev? I mean, he really epitomizes the ferocity that light heavyweights have been known for. Tremendous, tremendous puncher, big, big heart, a guy who refuses to lose. So, nothing can be better than this. … I really predict that this fight will be considered the ‘Fight of the Year’ for 2022.”
The unbeaten Beterbiev, who owns the IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles, has knocked out every opponent since the Russian-born champion made his pro debut in June 2013.
The 32-year-old Smith, of Mastic, New York, has officially suffered one technical-knockout defeat during his 12-year pro career.
ESPN’s coverage is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. ET.