Beterbiev sets up all-Russian undisputed bout with brutal KO (VIDEO)
Boxing fans and pundits are now calling for an all-Russian undisputed light heavyweight title bout after Artur Beterbiev pummelled Joe Smith Jr. in New York to unify his WBC and IBF belts with the American's WBO strap, and then set up a potential showdown with Dmitry Bivol.
Beterbiev delivered three knockdowns on Smith at Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theater and guaranteed that he remained the only active boxing champion with a 100% knockout record through his stoppage.
First flooring Smith at the close of the first round with a slick counter punch, the 37-year-old let off a flurry of punches on a foe five years his junior and floored him again in the second.
As Long Island native Smith struggled to regain his composure, a left uppercut from Montreal-based Chechen Beterbiev ended his night at 2:19 in the second round before Smith was carted off to hospital.
Speaking after his impressive victory which saw him improve to 18-0, Beterbiev revealed that he wants to be a good boxer "one day maybe", which is why his showing was a "little bit better than the past", he hoped.
"Joe's a little bit open and more easy for me to get him. Two fighters both have good punch and both tried to get [there] first. This time I'm lucky; I get there first," he added.
The win paved the way for an instant clash against mandatory WBO challenger Anthony Yarde in London, with October 29 being touted as a target date according to ESPN.
"He's a beast," conceded Yarde when approached by the same outlet. "He hits very hard. I'm a beast, too. That's why I think it's such an exciting matchup."
Yet the fight that everyone wants to see in the division is an all-Russian affair that legendary promoter Lou DiBella immediately called for on Twitter in the aftermath of the Smith demolition.
"Beterbiev is a bad, bad man. Give me Beterbiev vs Bivol now," DiBella wrote, in a tweet that has been widely shared and echoed.
Beterbiev is a bad bad man. Give me Beterbiev vs Bivol now. #boxing— Lou DiBella (@loudibella) June 19, 2022
Beterbiev is also interested in the clash, saying: "I've had two unification fights and unification fights are more interesting."
"I prefer to unify. I want to be undisputed," he further clarified.
With WBA king Bivol handing pound-for-pound great Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez his second career defeat and first since 2013 in May this year, in a one-sided unanimous decision masterclass, the meeting of the two Russians will truly decide who is the top dog at 175lbs.
Bivol's camp has also expressed a wish to make the meeting happen, with Bivol's promoter Andrey Ryabinskiy telling Sky Sports that Bivol "would be extremely interested in having a fight against the winner of this bout, especially if the winner is Artur Beterbiev" shortly before Beterbiev pulverized Smith.
"The fight between Bivol-Beterbiev is a long-awaited dream of all boxing fans," Ryabinskiy also stated.
But with Yarde next in line, sweet science fanatics may have to wait until early 2023 to see the megafight come to fruition, and the first ever undisputed light heavyweight champion of the four-era crowned.