Artur Beterbiev stayed perfect tonight, knocking out Callum Smith in the seventh round to retain his WBC, IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles in Quebec City.
With the win, Beterbiev improves to 20-0 (20 KO) at age 38, with Smith dropping to 29-2 (21 KO) in defeat.
The official scores at the time of the stoppage were 58-56, 58-56, and 59-55 for Beterbiev, the former two arguably a bit generous for Smith.
Bad Left Hook had two unofficial cards of 60-54 for Beterbiev, who as always was doing damage and dictating the vast majority of the fight.
Smith, 33, just never fully got into this one, as Beterbiev came out a bit more aggressive than usual in round one. But Smith did do his best to prove a legitimate challenge for Beterbiev, and gave about as quality an effort as just about anyone has against his Terminator-like opponent.
Smith had never been dropped in his career, but went down twice under the heavy shots of Beterbiev, both times in what wound up being the final round. After the second knockdown, trainer Buddy McGirt entered the ring to make sure referee Michael Griffin saw him, in order to stop the fight.
The big fight at light heavyweight obviously remains Beterbiev facing WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol, but one of two things will have to happen for that to become a reality.
Either the WBC will have to relent on their ruling that Russian fighters cannot fight for their titles — Bivol and Beterbiev are both Russian, but Beterbiev is a Canadian citizen and is listed with Canada as his country now — or Beterbiev would have to be willing to give up the WBC belt, which would mean Beterbiev vs Bivol wouldn’t be “undisputed,” which shouldn’t be an issue as that’s more a marketing tool than anything, and everyone knows that is the fight at 175.
In the chief support, super middleweight contender Christian Mbilli improved to 26-0 (22 KO) by stopping a game but way over-matched Rohan Murdock after six rounds of one-way action.
Murdock (27-3, 19 KO) has nothing to be ashamed of here, as he gave his absolute best effort and hung in tough with a guy who was just lighting him up with hard shots the entire fight, and Mbilli can punch. Murdock showed an iron chin just to stay on his feet through this fight, because the action got started hot in round one.
But the Aussie just did not have near enough answers for the 28-year-old Mbilli, who was born in Cameroon and fights out of France, with his career based in Quebec. The entire sixth round saw Murdock’s trainer clutching the towel and ready to throw it, only for Mbilli to not land anything too substantial until the closing moments, but that was enough for them to stop the fight once the round was over, and it was the right call.
Also on the undercard, Jason Moloney beat Saul Sanchez in a terrific bantamweight title fight, retaining the WBO belt.