If Joe Smith Jr. and Artur Beterbiev win their upcoming light heavyweight title fights, Bob Arum hopes to match them later this year.
Assuming fans can attend by the time a Smith-Beterbiev bout is scheduled, Arum thinks they could even sell out Madison Square Garden in New York.
“If Joe Smith wins and Beterbiev wins, that sets up a huge fight, maybe for Madison Square Garden,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “You’d sell out The Garden easy with a Smith-Beterbiev fight. That’d be a great fight. They’re both big punchers, tough guys. It’d be a fun fight.”
Smith, of Mastic, New York, and Maxim Vlasov, of Samara, Russia, are set to fight February 13 for the vacant WBO 175-pound championship. ESPN will televise the 12-round battle between Smith (26-3, 21 KOs) and Vlasov (45-3, 26 KOs) as the main event of a three-bout broadcast from a Las Vegas venue to be announced.
The 31-year-old Smith produced the most impressive performance of his career in his last fight. He dominated Colombian contender Eleider Alvarez (25-2, 13 KOs) and became the first opponent to stop the former WBO champ inside the distance, in the ninth round of their August 22 bout at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
The 35-year-old Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) will make a mandated defense of his IBF light heavyweight crown against Germany’s Adam Deines (19-1-1, 10 KOs) in his next bout.
Beterbiev and Deines were scheduled to fight January 30 in Moscow, but Beterbiev contracted COVID-19 and it was postponed. Arum expects ESPN+ to stream that rescheduled bout at some point in March.
Beterbiev-Deines, which initially was scheduled for October 23, first was postponed because Beterbiev suffered a rib injury while training.
“Smith has another tough Russian in front of him, in Vlasov, next month,” Arum said. “If he beats him, then a Beterbiev fight with Joe Smith would be a guaranteed sellout at Madison Square Garden. Joe has a lot of fans [from Long Island], and all these union people that support him. And there are a lot of Russian people in New York. And then, as the icing on the cake, you put Berlanga on the undercard.”
Arum referred to Brooklyn’s Edgar Berlanga (16-0, 16 KOs), the emerging, hard-hitting super middleweight prospect who has knocked out each of his professional opponents in the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.