Artur Beterbiev made the 175-pound limit for the first time as a pro tonight, and made a stunning debut at the weight, demolishing former titleholder Tavoris Cloud with four knockdowns in just over a full round of action, knocking out Cloud in the second.
Beterbiev (6-0, 6 KO) is a decorated amateur who last competed at the 2012 Olympic games as a heavyweight, losing to eventual gold medalist Oleksandr Usyk. As a pro, he's fought around 180-185 pound on the scales, and waxed overmatched foes. But even if one considers that Cloud (24-3, 19 KO) was long ago "exposed" as a more run of the mill fighter than once was hyped, this was an extremely impressive statement, as a pro novice totally overwhelmed a sturdy veteran. Unless something escapes me at the moment, Cloud had never been down before this, even last year against Adonis Stevenson, when he was creamed for seven rounds before the plug was pulled on that fight.
For Cloud, 32, this is obviously a major setback, but it may not be quite as bad as it looks. Sure, it's his third straight loss, and his fourth straight poor performance, but the 29-year-old Beterbiev has all the looks of another destroyer along the lines of Sergey Kovalev (whom Beterbiev beat twice in the amateurs) and middleweight Gennady Golovkin.
There was also a report on Twitter after the fight that Cloud may have suffered a broken jaw:
Long story short: Look out for Artur Beterbiev. We might have another rising star on our hands at 175 pounds, one with major league power and skills.
- Dierry Jean (27-1, 19 KO) overcame a slow start and some questionable punch resistance early against Daniel Ruiz (32-8-2, 22 KO) to score a fifth round TKO on a pair of body shot knockdowns. Jean, campaigning now at lightweight after a junior welterweight title loss to Lamont Peterson in January, certainly didn't look his best tonight, but he got the job done.
- Kevin Bizier (23-1, 16 KO) stopped Laszlo Fazekas in 2:31 of a scheduled eight-round welterweight fight. Fazekas falls to 22-16-1 (17 KO).
- Antonin Decarie (31-2, 10 KO) had a pretty easy time with Ivan Pereyra (19-4, 13 KO), stopping the Mexican at 2:08 of the fifth round.
- Stephane Ouellet returned to the ring at age 43 after 10 years off, and took a bit of a beating in a four round loss to Cedric Spera. Spera (11-2, 2 KO) busted up Ouellet (29-6, 18 KO) and dropped him in the fourth round, but to Ouellet's credit, he still behaved like a fighter in there, and might have simply gotten the answer to a question burning in his guts. He was originally planning a comeback a couple of years ago, but it didn't happen. Spera won on scores of 39-36 across the board.t