Artur Beterbiev made sure to give Callum Smith some semblance of consolation after he punished the latter for seven rounds.
Beterbiev successfully defended his WBO, WBC, and IBF 175-pound titles last Saturday night against England’s Smith at Centre Videotron in Quebec City, Canada, dropping Smith twice en route to forcing a stoppage in the seventh round of their scheduled 12-round bout.
It was another display of the Russian native’s punishing power and underrated craft. Smith had a few positive moments—an uppercut here, a left hook there—but he never seemed to trouble Beterbiev.
Nevertheless, Beterbiev gave credit to Smith and his team for his effort.
“He gave me a good fight,” Beterbiev told Sky Sports after the fight. “It looks like they did very good preparing. They prepared very well. They gave me good fight.”
“I prepare for 12 rounds,” Beterbiev answered when asked if he was angling for a stoppage. “I prepare for 13 rounds. It got stopped earlier but it was not my choice, you know. It happened.”
Beterbiev, who turns 39 later this month, was appreciative of the fact that the majority of spectators inside Centre Videotron had come to support him. Beterbiev, who has made Montreal his home for the past decade and a half, fought on the road in his previous two fights.
“When I fought with Joe Smith In New York, all the support was for him,” Beterbiev said. “When I fight with Anthony Yarde in England, they all support Anthony Yarde. But here all the stadium supported me. It’s very good, you know. I like it. Thank you for everyone.”
With the win over Smith, Beterbiev could now finally be looking at a showdown with WBA 175-pound titlist and Russian compatriot Dmitry Bivol later this year. Beterbiev’s promoter, Bob Arum, indicated after the fight that backers in Saudi Arabia are interested in staging that fight, in the capital of Riyadh, possibly in the summer.
Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KOs) too did not shy away from demanding the Bivol fight.
“Yes, I want this fight since a couple of years,” Beterbiev said. “But he (Bivol) says always the last four years the next fight he will do with me but never do.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.