With a two-round slaughter of Tavoris Cloud this past Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Russian light heavyweight prospect Artur Beterbiev emerged as a name to watch in the sport of boxing, so what more is there to this wave-making fighter?
First off, take a look at the Cloud fight:
Cloud hadn't looked good in a fight in a while, but his losses came to Bernard Hopkins and Adonis Stevenson, which should have also included a loss to Gabriel Campillo. So Cloud didn't have a legit win in three years, but bottom line is that Stevenson and Hopkins are top-level light heavyweights, and Campillo is a tricky, tough fighter, who recently regained some relevance with a win over prospect Thomas Williams Jr.
Those were all good fighters, to get to the point, and though Stevenson beat Cloud up, he didn't drop him. He stopped him after seven rounds, and he put a whooping on Cloud, but he didn't put him on the canvas. Hopkins and Campillo gave Cloud various boxing lessons, but they didn't drop him.
Julio Cesar Gonzalez, Clinton Woods, Glen Johnson, Fulgencio Zuniga, and Yusaf Mack didn't drop Cloud, either. They all lost convincingly to him.
Beterbiev, however, demolished the former IBF titleholder. Totally destroyed him. Put him on the canvas four times in 3:38 of ring time, finishing him in just over a round. It was pretty wild, and a definite statement. Add in the fact that this was Beterbiev's sixth pro fight, and it becomes all the more impressive.
So what's Beterbiev's story? A few notes:
- He'll turn 30 in January, so he isn't exactly a young prospect, but that also means he's likely about as polished as he's going to get. Any fighter can make improvements at his age, but it's unlikely we've yet to see an undiscovered level of skill or ability. That said, the level of skill and ability looks pretty damn good.
- He never won an Olympic medal, but he was a standout amateur, beating Sergey Kovalev a couple of times in the unpaid ranks. He won gold at the 2006 and 2010 European Amateur Championships, as well as the 2009 World Amateur Championships. He won silver at the 2007 World Amateur Championships. He was a participant in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he was upset Zhang Xiaoping, who wound up being gifted a gold medal.
- In 2011, Beterbiev moved to heavyweight (201 lb limit) in the amateurs, losing to Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine at the Worlds. At the 2012 London Olympics, he against lost to Usyk, who went on to win gold.
- Beterbiev fought for Russia in the Olympics and at competitions, but is a Chechen.
Beterbiev is 6-0 with 6 knockouts as a pro. While the Cloud win is easily his best to date, it's also notable that in his second pro fight, he stopped tough journeyman Rayco Saunders after three rounds. Saunders has 24 losses as of now (three since Beterbiev), and has only been stopped one other time, by Greg Wright in 2003.
The Cloud fight was also the first time that Beterbiev made the light heavyweight limit as a pro, as his other fights came at catchweights between 180 and 185 pounds. He's a little over six feet tall with a big frame, and at some point will probably fight at cruiserweight.
Now living in and fighting out of Montreal, Beterbiev also has the luxury of a killer boxing fan base that readily "adopts" international fighters, as we've seen with box office stars like Lucian Bute (Romania), Jean Pascal (Haiti), and Stevenson (Haiti). Like recent breakouts Sergey Kovalev and Gennady Golovkin, Beterbiev has the sort of crushing power and high-octane offense (mixed with strong boxing skills) that easily create fans every time he's seen on TV, too, and it probably won't be long before we see him on HBO or Showtime.