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Sugarhill Steward says Apti Davtaev can become a world champion

The trainer sees the 30-year-old Russian as a heavyweight Artur Beterbiev.

Time of Legends boxing night in Moscow Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

Trainer Sugarhill Steward, who is the man in the corner for WBC and LINEAL!!!!!!!!! heavyweight champion Tyson Fury these days, is also working with 30-year-old Russian bruiser Apti Davtaev, and tells Sky Sports that he believes Davtaev can become a world champion, too.

Davtaev (20-0-1, 19 KO) has fought mostly in Russian in his career, though he’s made a few appearances Stateside already, most recently in January, when he stopped Keith Barr in the third round in Atlantic City. His last fight came on Feb. 21 in Moscow, where he knocked out John Napari in the second round.

Opposition has been lacking to date, but Steward believes the tools are there, saying Davtaev works very hard and is constantly trying to improve. He also compared him to light heavyweight titleholder Artur Beterbiev:

“He is big, strong and athletic. You know what he can do? He can lie on his back and jump onto his feet without using his hands! He’s so athletic. He is very strong — not in terms of being powerful, but just strong. I compare him to Artur Beterbiev but triple the size.”

In pro wrestling, that jumping from back to feet move is called a “kip-up” by most, a “nip-up” if you’re Jim Ross.

Having seen a bit of Davtaev, it’s clear he’s a big — 6’5”, ~250 — and physically strong man. But the opposition really has to improve before any of us who aren’t seeing him in the gym can get any real read on the guy and how he projects. He’s already not young, although he’s also not old and certainly has time to have a run as a heavyweight if he gets moving in a serious direction.

Time will tell and all that. If Steward isn’t just hyping, we might have a new contender on our hands in the next couple years.