NEW YORK: Light-heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev knocked out American rival Joe Smith Jr. inside two rounds on Saturday to add the WBO title to his WBC and IBF belts.
The unbeaten 37-year-old Canada-based Russian scored three knockdowns and had Smith in deep trouble with just under a minute remaining in round two before the fight was stopped.
Beterbiev improves to 18-0 – all by knockout – and can now set his sights on a possible unification fight against Russia’s WBA champion Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed light heavyweight crown.
“Joe is a little bit open, and it was more easy for me to get him,” Beterbiev said afterwards, before turning his attention to the prospect of a fight with Bivol.
“I’ve had two unification fights and unification fights are more interesting,” Beterbiev said.
“I prefer to unify. I want to be undisputed.”
Smith, who was reportedly taken to hospital immediately after the bout and did not speak to media, meanwhile fell to 28-4 after the fourth defeat of his career.