Best way to bet title fight


There isn’t a huge fight on tap for this weekend, but fans and bettors will get to watch one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in IBF and WBC, light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs). Beterbiev will face WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs) on Saturday night with all three belts on the line at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.

Beterbiev has won all 17 of his professional fights by knockout. Oddsmakers are expecting that streak to continue on Saturday. Beterbiev is the -800 favorite in three-way betting and -250 to win by stoppage. Meanwhile, bettors can get Smith at a juicy +500 to pull the upset, with a draw sitting at 22/1. The Over/Under on rounds is 8.5.

Artur Beterbiev (right)
Sputnik via AP

This will be an interesting fight in a really underrated weight class. Remember, the WBA light heavyweight champion is Dmitry Bivol, who recently dealt Canelo Alvarez his first loss since 2013. Smith fought Bivol in 2019, losing a unanimous decision. While the fight went the distance, Bivol completely outclassed Smith, winning 119-109, 119-109 and 118-110 on the judges’ scorecards.

Beterbiev will be a completely different test for Smith. Bivol is the best boxer at 175 pounds, but Beterbiev has the most power. Smith, however, has been knocked out only once in 28 career fights and that was 12 years ago.

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Oddsmakers aren’t expecting this bout to go the distance. Not only is Beterbiev -295 to win by stoppage, odds for the fight to not go 12 rounds are -400.

One thing to note is despite having fought just 17 times as a professional, Beterbiev is 37 years old. That’s because he had a long amateur career before turning pro. Beterbiev has stopped his last three opponents, but all of those fights ended in the ninth round or later.

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Smith is no slouch in the power department either. He has won 22 of his 28 career fights by stoppage. He also is the only fighter to ever knock out future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. Granted Hopkins was 51 and hadn’t fought in two years, but it’s still an impressive accomplishment. It also shows the power Smith has to stop a guy such as Hopkins, who previously hadn’t been knocked out in 66 career fights.

Both of these guys are aggressive, heavy punchers. As the odds suggest, it’s hard to see this fight going the distance. The likely scenario is Beterbiev winning by stoppage. Smith is a tough guy, but he’s going to take punishment from the hardest puncher at 175 pounds. Sooner or later, I see Beterbiev winning by KO or TKO.

The bet I like here is Beterbiev to win in Rounds 7-12 at +1. If Smith wins, I see him coming out strong and scoring an early stoppage. If this fight goes past three rounds, however, it will only be a matter of time before Beterbiev’s power puts Smith on the canvas.

This has the makings to be one of the most entertaining fights of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Smith hurts Beterbiev at some point in the bout. Still, I expect Beterbiev to win by stoppage, but I don’t want to lay the -250. Instead, I’ll take the better odds and back Beterbiev to win in Rounds 7-12.

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