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Joe Smith Jr ready for Artur Beterbiev, believes Dmitry Bivol deserves to be called top man at 175

Joe Smith Jr thinks Dmitry Bivol has made everyone look “ordinary,” but wants his rematch after his June clash with Artur Beterbiev.

Joe Smith Jr is ready for war with Artur Beterbiev, but feels Dmitry Bivol has earned being the No. 1 man at 175
Joe Smith Jr is ready for war with Artur Beterbiev, but feels Dmitry Bivol has earned being the No. 1 man at 175
Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Joe Smith Jr will get a chance to unify three light heavyweight title belts when he faces Artur Beterbiev on June 18, a fight that diehard fans are looking forward to seeing because it flat-out promises violence.

Smith (28-3, 22 KO) sat down with the DAZN Boxing Show to discuss that fight and the other big happening in his division recently, Dmitry Bivol’s upset win over Canelo Alvarez. Smith knows Bivol well, having fought him in 2019, and says he believes Bivol really is the best fighter in the division, at least for now.

On Bivol beating Canelo

“I thought Bivol had a great chance to win the fight, just with their styles. I feel Canelo’s used to aggressive guys, guys that are constantly trying to knock him out, coming forward, where Bivol is not that kind of guy; he’s gonna pick his shots and move. I kinda pictured the fight the way it went. I put a little money on it, so I actually won a bit. ... I was telling everybody for a long time that I think Bivol would give Canelo a run for his money, and he did it.”

On whether he would have beaten that Canelo

“You never know, man. Styles make fights and stuff, but I believe at this point I’m ready to face all the best. I believe I am one of the best and can beat a lot of the best.”

On people not expecting his fight with Beterbiev to go the distance

“My approach is I’m always prepared to go 12 rounds, but if I can get him out of there early, shit — that’s one thing I love to do. I don’t want to go 12 rounds. If I can get him out in two, three, four, whatever it may be, I’m gonna do it.”

On liking the style matchup with Beterbiev

“He comes straight forward, he’s made for my style. He comes forward, I believe I’m a little faster and a little more elusive, where I can get some ‘lucky shots’ off.”

On Bivol being called No. 1 now over Beterbiev

“I still believe Bivol is the best light heavyweight right now. I believe he will be until I get my rematch. I know he’s great and he put on a great show against Canelo, so you can’t doubt him. Everyone he’s ever got in the ring, he just made them look ordinary.”

On wanting the Bivol rematch after Beterbiev

“Yeah, that’s what I want. I want to be undisputed. If we can make that fight happen sooner than later, that’s what I want. I want to become undisputed as quickly as possible.”

On being offered Canelo, whether he’d take it

“I want Bivol. Really. I want that belt and I want to be undisputed. If I could get that fight, beat him, anything’s possible after that.”

On whether he’s trained differently for Beterbiev

“I’m just doing everything I normally do and then some. I’m doing a little more strength training just so I know my strength is up there with his. ... It’s gonna be a great fight, because I’m 100 percent (ready).”