Artur Beterbiev is on the same page as Joe Smith Jr.
According to Marc Ramsay, Beterbiev’s longtime trainer, Beterbiev, the WBC/IBF light heavyweight title holder from Russia, wants to rejoin the division, as does Smith, the WBO light heavyweight title holder from Mastic, New York. .
That was not the impression Smith had of late.
Smith, 32, recently defended his title against late replacement Steve Geffrard at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. Smith stopped Geffrard in the ninth round. As he made the media rounds to take on the fight, which was originally going to feature England’s Callum Johnson as the challenger (COVID-19), Smith told BoxingScene.com that he had previously “signed multiple contracts” to fight Beterbiev, but that the De Rus withdrew ‘two or three times from the fight’.
Smith’s co-promoter Joe DeGuardia said after Smith’s win over Geffrard that he would not wait forever for Beterbiev to make a decision.
The only other title holder in the 175-pound division is Dmitry Bivol (WBA), but unlike Smith and Beterbiev, who are on a par with Top Rank, Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) is under contract to rival promoter Matchroom. A Beterbiev-Smith unification should in theory be easy to make.
Ramsay was surprised by Team Smith’s comments, claiming that the only interaction they had was through Top Rank.
“It’s really funny how the reality of some isn’t” [the same as] others,” Ramsay told BoxingScene.com. “We only got one call from Top Rank asking if we were interested in fighting Joe Smith at MSG and we told them we were interested and ready to listen to the offer. After that they never contacted us about it again. We didn’t even have a chance to talk about money.
“A month later, [Top Rank] contacted us to tell us we had to defend our title against mandatory WBC contender Marcus Browne, which we did.”
The 37-year-old Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) defeated Browne in the ninth round on December 17 at the Bell Center in Montreal, Beterbiev’s adopted hometown. Beterbiev had to fight through half the game with a horrific cut that was believed to be the result of an accidental head-on collision.
Ramsay, who serves as Director of Development for Quebec promotion company Eye of the Tiger, noted that talks with Smith have resumed (28-3, 22 KOs).
“We’ve had some discussions recently on the topic of the fight against Smith and if the terms of the offer are acceptable, our response will be affirmative,” Ramsay said, adding that they want the Smith fight “as soon as possible.” . “Artur is never one to shy away from a challenge.
“Right now it’s just a matter of negotiation,” Ramsay continued. “It’s never personal with Arthur. The goal he’s set for himself is to hold the other belts, that’s all.
Ramsay notes that Beterbiev’s cut is healing on schedule.
“Artur has been out of contact for 40 days, so he will be cleared to resume contact in mid-February,” Ramsay said. “He’s already training again.”