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Artur Beterbiev blasts Callum Smith down in seven rounds to continue knockout streak and world championship reign

Artur Beterbiev beat Callum Smith over the course of seven brutal rounds to retain the WBC, IBF and WBO light-heavyweight world titles in Canada; Liverpool's Smith had never been dropped before but Beterbiev put him down twice to maintain his 100 per cent knockout ratio

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Artur Beterbiev continued his vicious knockout streak as he halted Callum Smith in the seventh round and retained his light heavyweight world titles

Artur Beterbiev continued his reign as the unified light-heavyweight world champion as he blasted Britain’s Callum Smith down twice and forced a finish two minutes into their seventh round.

Smith was attempting to become a two-weight world champion when he challenged Beterbiev for the WBC, IBF and WBO 175lb belts at the Videotron Center in Quebec City.

But taking on Beterbiev is as formidable a task as there is in world boxing.

Smith tries to repel Beterbiev
Image: Smith tries to repel Beterbiev

With crushing punch-power, and underrated boxing ability, Beterbiev had won all of his professional contests by knockout and stoppage. Smith proved to be no exception.

Spurred on by the crowd in his adopted home country, Beterbiev started quickly, catching Smith early in the first round and hurting him too.

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Watch Artur Beterbiev's brutal assault on Callum Smith from ringside

He directed Smith to the ropes with clubbing force. He snuck into range and, with a solid left, caught Smith when he stepped forward.

The Briton steadied and tapped his jab into Beterbiev. He doubled up that lead when he targeted the body.

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Smith boxed his way into the second round, though the champion continued to present him with threats of sudden danger.

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Callum Smith admitted the defeat to Artur Beterbiev was a big blow and he will have to see if other goals in boxing can motivate him to fight on

Beterbiev just ratcheted up the pressure, disrupting the challenger with hard, repeated jabs. Smith tried to punch round that shot but Beterbiev added in hurtful right-hand blows.

Smith was feeling those shots but nevertheless launched left hooks at him.

Beterbiev though hounded him in the fourth round. He stayed on Smith, blasting heavy hits through the Briton's defences.

Beterbiev is an overwhelming force against Smith
Image: Beterbiev is an overwhelming force against Smith

A hard right cross lashed down across the jaw within a fierce combination from the champion. Defiant still, Smith earned moments of respite when he trebled his left hook to the head. He ripped his lead hook to the body too.

But he could not sustain it and all the while had been letting too many hard punches through.

The challenger became more ragged as he tried to reach for the body in the fifth round, while Beterbiev looked ever more commanding, deceptively light on his feet as Smith's punches struggled to find him.

While he could pad Smith's jab away, Beterbiev's left was hard to read and the champion managed to launch it cleanly through the Briton's guard.

Before the fight had even reached its halfway stage, Smith was cut and his face increasingly marked up.

The force of a lead hook backed Smith up. He did unearth a two-punch combination to the head and body himself.

Beterbiev's strikes however continued to burst through, breaking down his challenger.

Artur Beterbiev with promoter Bob Arum
Image: Beterbiev celebrates with promoter Bob Arum

A right cross to the head in the seventh round badly shook up Smith. Beterbiev then unleashed a fearful array of punches, knocking Smith down for the first time in his career.

He could not escape from there.

Beterbiev hit him back into the ropes, and then battered him down to the canvas again.

Smith's trainer, Buddy McGirt would not allow him to take further punishment and stepped through the ropes to end it two minutes into the seventh round.

Beterbiev retained his three world titles and maintained his 100 per cent knockout ratio.

But he spoke calmly after the victory. "You know it's because of luck" was his suggestion for why no opponent has been able to go the distance with him.

"It's my coach working hard with me, maybe that's why too. But I think it's because of luck."

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Artur Beterbiev says Dmitrii Bivol is the fight he has always wanted and hopes the WBA champion will finally agree to face him next

The loss forced Smith to "reassess his future" as he admitted his performance wasn't the best.

"There's no excuse, the better man won tonight. He's a good champion, he turned up and done what he had to do," Smith said speaking to Sky Sports.

"He's a good fighter, he's a world champion for a reason. I came up short tonight and it's a hard one to take.

"I've always believed I'm the best and now it's hard to accept that I'm not. I've got an amazing family at home. I give a lot to boxing. Without making any decisions, I think it's time to assess the future, see if I've got any goals to motivate me to go back to the gym."

Smith also likened Beterbiev's punching ability to his brother Liam Smith saying: "He's good at constantly touching, a bit like my brother.

"When I got knocked down I didn't feel anything power wise, it's more that he is constantly touching and stops you getting into any sort of rhythm."

Undercard action

Jason Moloney retained the WBO bantamweight world title after a desperately close 12-round battle with Saul Sanchez.

Sanchez was an unheralded challenger who had never competed at this kind of level before.

Yet the American started positively on the front foot, catching Moloney with solid straight shots as he closed in.

The champion, from Australia, picked up a cut by his right eye as soon as the third round and was taking shots. Moving off invited Sanchez forward and the challenger was finding success.

Jason Moloney vs Saul Sanchez (Photos: Top Rank)
Image: Jason Moloney retained the WBO bantamweight title against Saul Sanchez (Photos: Top Rank)

They engaged ferociously throughout a close fight, with Moloney forcing his way on to the front foot to match Sanchez.

But neither managed to establish clear control of the contest, slugging it out in the late rounds as each battled to tip the balance in their favour.

One judge ruled the bout a 114-114 draw, but Moloney managed to edge Sanchez out by majority decision, winning 116-112 for the other two officials.

"I felt like I did enough in the later rounds to retain my title," the defending champion declared afterwards.

"Saul Sanchez is a warrior. I am proud to be the WBO bantamweight champion, and I was going to do whatever it took to keep my title."

Christian Mbilli grinds down Rohan Murdock
Image: Christian Mbilli grinds down Rohan Murdock

Christian Mbilli sustained a high tempo and heavy assault as he set about Australia's Rohan Murdock.

The latter gamely threw punches back, but Mbilli, an all-action fighter, continued to clatter him with hooks and arching rights over the top.

By the end of the fifth round Murdock was wilting severely.

He propelled himself off the stool and into Mbilli for the sixth round. He did give the Frenchman pause for thought with a right cross, but shuddering uppercuts caught Murdock flush.

After Mbilli applied another strong finish to the round and Murdock's corner pulled him out at the fight's halfway stage.

Imam Khataev vs Michal Ludwiczak
Image: Imam Khataev halted Michal Ludwiczak in dominant fashion

Imposing light-heavyweight prospect Imam Khataev, who lost to Britain's Ben Whittaker in the semi-final of the Tokyo Olympic Games, hammered Poland's Michal Ludwiczak to defeat inside a two rounds.

He exerted front-foot pressure, landing damaging hooks from mid-range. The Pole tried to fend him off but could land nothing of note.

After a sustained attack in the second round, a brace of short, chopping shots dropped Ludwiczak.

He rose but Khataev continued to pummel him and forced a stoppage.

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