Common Joe Versus The King:
Artur Beterbiev / Joe Smith Jr. Light Heavyweight Title Unification Showdown Confirmed For June 18
Hulu Theater, Madison Square Garden LIVE On ESPN!
(May 4th) Three belts and light heavyweight supremacy will be at stake when WBC/IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev meets WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. in a highly anticipated unification showdown Saturday, June 18, at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Beterbiev, boxing’s only world champion with a 100 percent knockout rate, hopes to pick up another strap against “Cinderella Man” Smith, a Long Island native who grew up about 70 miles from Madison Square Garden.
In the 10-round featherweight co-feature, two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez will battle the unbeaten Abraham “El Super” Nova. Beterbiev-Smith and Ramirez-Nova will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
“Beterbiev vs Smith is one of the very best fights that can be made in boxing, two huge punchers fighting at Madison Square Garden in what will be an electric atmosphere. Whoever comes out on top will be the true king of the light heavyweight division,” said Top Rank chairman BOB ARUM. “Robeisy Ramirez has developed into a sensational pro, and he will have his hands full against a tough, undefeated kid in Abraham Nova. The winner will be in line to fight for a featherweight world title."
"I am thrilled we were able to put this sensational championship unification fight together,” said JOE DEGUARDIA, President of Star Boxing. “The top two punchers in boxing fighting each other for their three world titles. It has been brewing for a long time and is a potential fight of the year. Joe Smith Jr. is proud of his humble background and hard-working union 'Common Man' moniker, but he is also truly special and a real champ. He could have chosen an easier path, but he wanted the best and toughest out there, the guy everyone is afraid to fight. Credit to both champions, each fighting the toughest, hardest-punching and most dangerous foe the division has. I can't wait to see this fight!"
Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs), a two-time Russian Olympian, has spent his nine-year pro career based in Montreal, Canada. He has been a world champion since knocking out Enrico Koelling for the IBF strap in November 2017. He's won five title fights inside the distance since then, including an off-the-deck victory over Callum Johnson and a title unification classic versus Oleksandr Gvozdyk in 2019. Beterbiev went 2-0 in 2021, capping the year with December’s brutal ninth-round stoppage over longtime contender Marcus Browne.
“I look forward to the challenge ahead of me. Joe Smith Jr. is a worthy champion, but I am coming to Madison Square Garden to add another world title to my collection,” Beterbiev said. “This fight will get me one step closer to becoming undisputed champion.”
Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) earned mainstream recognition with his 2016 knockout of living legend Bernard Hopkins and scored standout wins over Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez in 2020. In his second world title attempt, he outlasted Maxim Vlasov in a 2021 Fight of the Year Contender. Smith successfully defend his world title in January with a ninth-round stoppage over late replacement Steve Geffrard.
Smith said, "I am extremely excited and focused on this task I have ahead. Facing Beterbiev is huge. It is going to be a fight that fans remember forever, with two of the biggest punches in boxing today facing off. This opportunity is a dream of mine to accomplish. Fighting with three titles on the line is one step closer to becoming undisputed."
Ramirez (9-1, 5 KOs) has been on a sterling run since a shocking loss in his August 2019 professional debut. An Olympic champion in 2012 and 2016, Ramirez is coming off one-sided victories over the unbeaten Orlando Gonzalez and Irish veteran Eric Donovan. Nova (21-0, 15 KOs), who spent much of his career at junior lightweight, has been flawless since moving up to the featherweight ranks. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Albany, New York, Nova knocked out William Encarnacion in eight rounds on the Smith-Geffrard undercard in January.
Ramirez said, “I have always wanted to display my talent on a stage as important as the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City. Come June 18, I will not only take advantage of this big opportunity, but I will also hand Nova the first loss of his career. I’m going to take a big leap in my quest to become world champion, and above all, showcase my class and give boxing fans another great performance. I will make clear that ‘El Tren’ is a true powerhouse in the featherweight division.”
Nova said, “Robeisy is a great talent, and he’s the fighter that will get me to that next level. I need a statement victory. Beating a two-time gold medalist puts me right in the title picture. The better the competition, the better I look. Nobody has seen the best of me yet, and I will show that on June 18.”
The undercard, which will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, is scheduled to feature many of the sport’s rising superstars. In six-round bouts, Brooklyn-born featherweight puncher Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (3-0, 2 KOs) and Long Island welterweight Jahi Tucker (7-0, 4 KOs) hope to extend their unbeaten records. U.S. Olympian Troy Isley (5-0, 3 KOs), fresh off his knockout win on the Oscar Valdez-Shakur Stevenson undercard, returns in a six-round middleweight bout. Featherweight Kurt Walker (2-0, 1 KO) and junior middleweight Kieran Molloy (1-0, 1 KO), both of whom starred for the Irish national team as amateurs, will make their respective U.S. debuts.
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About Star Boxing
Star Boxing, Inc. has been in operation since 1992. Founded by Joe DeGuardia, its President and CEO, Star Boxing has worked to produce some of the most exciting and memorable boxing events in recent history. Star has continued to work with and develop a number of very exciting world champions, world-rated contenders and young prospects. Star has consistently brought credibility, integrity, and exciting fights to the boxing industry. For more information on Star Boxing, visit the official website at starboxing.com.
Star Boxing is among the highest regarded and most rapidly expanding boxing organizations in the country. Its premier stature is reinforced by its ability to develop talent and maintain a high profile within the industry and with its broadcast affiliates. Star Boxing regularly stages and televises premium quality boxing matches throughout the world. The swift ascendancy of Star Boxing is largely attributable to the sporting expertise and innovative business vision of the organization’s founder and President, Joe DeGuardia. As the son of a professional prizefighter, DeGuardia can truly boast a lifetime association with the sport of boxing. DeGuardia grew up in the Bronx, learning boxing at his father’s neighborhood boxing gym. He fought his first official bout at the age of nine, and won the Golden Gloves Welterweight crown in 1988, one year before his graduation from law school. Following his admission to the bar, DeGuardia joined the Bronx District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor. He then went on to develop a successful, Bronx-based independent law practice.
Notwithstanding his work as a lawyer, DeGuardia always remained professionally active in the boxing world. This involvement became a full-time dedication in 1990, when he took over management of the Morris Park Boxing Club from his father. In his new capacity as chief operator of the club, DeGuardia transformed the business into one of the busiest boxing gyms in New York, while also using it as a base from which to launch his larger business as a top boxing entrepreneur. Star Boxing, the organization that evolved out of DeGuardia’s broad experience in the boxing industry, works on a flexible business model which enables DeGuardia to develop and promote both exclusive boxing events and boxers, as well as to put together joint-sponsorship events with other major promoters. Thus, there are many different components to his portfolio of promotional ventures. Recently, Star Boxing events have been among the highest grossing, most successful events in boxing, further solidifying its position as one of the most reputable companies in the sport. Among Star’s promoted fighters and events, the Antonio Tarver vs. Roy Jones Jr. trilogy was one of the most successful trilogies in boxing history, generating over 50 million in revenue. Star Boxing shows have been broadcast on both internationally and nationally on Pay-Per-View, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, HDNet, Telemundo and MSG, as well as on the internet, through collaborative efforts with GoFightLive.TV.
Through his leadership of Star Boxing, DeGuardia has secured a reputation as among the youngest and most dynamic first-tier promoters in the business. In addition to the guidance of DeGuardia, Star has several high-level industry executives, including matchmaker Ron Katz who is widely considered one of the best matchmakers of all time. Star Boxing is also a proud member of the Boxing Promoters Association (BPA), which was formed in 2009, and is made up of over thirty of the top US Promoters. The BPA was the brainchild of DeGuardia, and his efforts in forming the organization were recognized by the fellow BPA Members, who elected DeGuardia President of the Association. Star Boxing will continue with groundbreaking shows and concepts in the years ahead, as it continues its role as an innovative leader in the exciting world of boxing.
About Top Rank
Innovation has been the standard at Top Rank since it was established in 1966 by Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. The boxing industry’s leading promotional company, Top Rank has shaped, developed, and promoted the careers of top international pay-per-view superstars and Hall of Famers, including Muhammad Ali, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto, Erik Morales, Terence Crawford, and Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Top Rank has promoted some of the most memorable fights in the sport’s history, including 26 Ali events, Leonard vs. Hearns, Pryor vs. Arguello, Duran vs. Leonard, Hagler vs. Hearns, Leonard vs. Hagler, Foreman vs. Holyfield, Morales vs. Barrera, De La Hoya vs. Trinidad, and the most lucrative fight in boxing history, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. In addition to the previously mentioned super fights, Top Rank possesses one of the largest sports libraries, which includes nearly 10,000 fights.
Known for creating strategic collaborations between athletes, sponsors, and television networks, Top Rank has been an architect of boxing’s global growth by staging high-profile events in landmark settings around the world, including Madison Square Garden, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Staples Center, Wembley Arena, Araneta Coliseum, The Venetian Macao, Yankee Stadium, Radio City Music Hall, The “Fabulous” Forum, and AT&T Stadium. Top Rank has also been the leader within the boxing industry in creating unforgettable in-arena experiences for fans and embracing 21st century technological advancements to distribute world-class fights and shoulder programming across a variety of platforms.
Artur Beterbiev / Joe Smith Jr.
Unifier A Go For June 18th,
Most Likely In New York!
(March 19th) No stranger to the underdog role, Shirley, New York, light heavyweight, Joe “The Beast” Smith Jr. finds himself in a familiar role June 18th when the 32-year-old Irishman squares off against Montreal, Quebec, Canada based unbeaten Russian, Artur Beterbiev.
Smith Jr., 28-3, 22Ko’s finding himself on the short side of pundit’s expectations crashed the light heavyweight scene six years ago to the day of the upcoming unification about securing the World Boxing Council International Light Heavyweight Title blasting out Chicago, Illinois, heavily favored Pole Andrzej Fonfara in one round.
Always fighting with the anyone, anytime mentality repeated the feat just six months later launching Philadelphia, Hall of Famer, Bernard Hopkins out of the ring and into retirement live on HBO.
Smith continuing his fight anyone, anywhere approach would prove he is anything but the “common man” he was labeled by Hopkins prior to their meeting July 15th, 2017 when after flooring once beaten highly skilled, Sullivan Barrera in round one, “The Beast” would do more than just survive, befalling a second broken jaw in round two would battle the Cuban star the full ten round distance suffering just his second pro defeat.
Following a second eleven-month injury forced hiatus Smith returned to the gym and his knockout status disposing of Kentucky’s, Melvin Russell in just one round his last time out June 30th, 2018, known as the Irish Bomber” for his one punch KO power and “The Beast” for his unusually harsh training sessions, the Union 66 laborer fully understanding the opportunity and obstacle in front of him Smith Jr. returned again this time living his childhood dream March 9th, 2019 in the biggest fight of his young career, Smith rocked the heavily favored Russian with big right hands in the third and tenth rounds only to see his dream slip through his losing a very competitive twelve round unanimous decision. The blue-collar worker in and out of the ring immediately back in the gym putting to work lessons learned from the loss the “Beast” would see his title challenge performance versus Bivol keep the rugged, Irishman in the mix at the top of the division setting up back-to-back bouts versus top ten ranked opposition banking victories over Jesse Hart and Eleider Alvarez setting up a vacant World Boxing Organization World Light Heavyweight Title claiming win over favored Russian, Maxim Vlasov, April 10th, 2021.
Staying in the gym the always ready Irishman hospitalized with COVID-19, Smith returned to defended the title with a ninth-round stoppage of Miami, Florida, late-replacement Steve Geffrard, January 15th.
The heavy-handed Smith once again back in his very comfortable underdog role will take on his biggest opponent to date when he faces 2008 and 2012 Russian Olympian and WBC and IBF World Light Heavyweight Champion Artur Beterbiev, June 18th most likely in New York at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden heading a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event.
The 37 year old, Beterbiev, hampered by early managerial and promotional problems, then Covid 19 and its effect on boxing scheduling perfect at 17-0, 17Ko’s, recording his most impressive victory a October 18, 2019 10th-round stoppage of fellow then unbeaten Russian, Oleksandr Gvozdyk comes in off back to back wins over southpaws, scoring a tenth round TKO stoppage of Adam Deines, March 20th, 2021 and in his last outing a ninth-round KO of Staten Island, New York, 2012 Olympian, Marcus Browne in December.