It only took a round and a half for the Russian Artur Beterbiev to demolish the American Joe Smith and steal the World Boxing Council (WBO) light heavyweight belt, Saturday June 18 in New York. It is added to those of the World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) already in its possession.

Aged 37, Beterbiev has an 18th success in as many fights and all of them have been obtained before the limit. He is the only current world champion, all categories combined, to be able to boast about it.

In the Madison Square Garden ring, the Russian boxer, also a naturalized Canadian, lived up to his reputation as a finishing puncher, facing a Smith condemned to suffer from the outset. The American was counted three times in the first recovery, sounded by the overpowered right hook of his opponent, who found the faults either by going over his guard, or from below, by placing big uppercuts.

The fourth belt in sight

The second round saw Beterbiev advancing like a machine on his increasingly weakened prey, who went to the mat for a fourth time before getting up. A few seconds later, the referee did not bother to count Smith, who was barely standing on his feet, staring into space, after yet another right taken to the temple. At 32, he concedes his 4th defeat (28 victories, including 22 before the limit).

Imperial, Beterbiev announced after the fight his wish to be the king of the category, by challenging the formidable Russian Dmitry Bivol, who holds the WBA title, the only one he lacks. The latter had made a very strong impression by retaining it on May 7, with a unanimous decision victory at the expense of Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.