Prior to last week only hardcore boxing fans would have heard of the name Artur Beterbiev. Don’t worry though we will be hearing and seeing a lot more him. Soon everyone will know exactly who Artur Beterbiev is.
After facing cannon fodder opposition in his first five professional contests the 29-year-old, former Russian Olympian and World Amateur Champion, Beterbiev, took a massive step up in class against ex IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud.
After two consecutive defeats, this was supposed to be Cloud’s comeback bout. Instead, his career at the top level looks doomed after Beterbiev destroyed him in less than four minutes.
To put it into context, prior to his annihilation at the hands of Artur Beterbiev, Cloud had only ever tasted defeat against Bernard Hopkins and Adonis Stevenson - elite light heavyweights in every sense of the word.
The fact that his team had the audacity to risk an encounter with Cloud in the embryonic stages of Beterbiev’s professional career highlights the huge belief his handlers have in his ability. His stunning 2nd knockout of Cloud is confirmation that there confidence in him is not misguided.
Watching Beterbiev announce himself on the world stage was like the boxing equivalent of when Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene with that beautiful goal against Arsenal. Although Beterbiev entered the fray when he was older, there are definite parallels in their visceral presence.
Boxing fanatic Rooney will definitely be mightily impressed when he watches Beterbiev's oblieration of Cloud.
Some may feel he is being rushed, but if you the access the landscape of the light heavyweight division, his rise to prominence has come at the perfect time. Barring the notable exception of Sergey Kovalev, there is no better time to face all the big name light heavyweights.
Just as Beterbiev is entering the higher echelons of the light heavyweight division, all the other top fighters -with the exception of Kovalev - are planning their exit strategies from the sport. Interestingly enough, Beterbiev has actually beaten Kovalev twice in the amateurs, although we all know professional boxing is a totally different ball game.
Of the other current champions, 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins is applying the final brushstrokes to his legacy and 37-year-old Adonis Stevenson isn’t far from the finish line. Whereas other marquee names in the division such as Jean Pascal, Chaw Dawson and Lucian Bute all seem decidedly battle weary these days.
The latter names in their current incarnation would hold no fears for Beterbiev but would definitely be notable feathers on his cap at this stage of his career.
The 'Canada Connection'
The biggest blessing for Beterbiev though is the ‘Canada Connection’. How conveniently coincidental is that Stevenson, Bute and Pascal all regularly fight at the Bell Centre in Canada - the scene of Beterbiev’s destruction of Cloud.
After such an emphatic victory over Cloud, there will be a clamour among the Canadian fight fans for Beterbiev to compete against all of the aforementioned fighters in the near future.
It is incredibly fortuitous that Canada based Beterbiev fights in the same weight class as three ageing house fighters. He must seize upon this slice of fortune and do everything he can to entice those fighters into the ring.
Plans for the forward
You can bet that Beterbiev’s management team is busy behind the scenes trying to secure these fights for the thunderously powerful Russian. Money talks, and if there is enough cash on the table then Stevenson, Pascal or Bute could be tempted by the prospect of topping up their retirement funds by facing Beterbiev.
Of course the Holy Grail is obviously the winner of Kovalev vs Hopkins. Beterbiev will dare to dream that he may be the chosen one. Yet from a pragmatic viewpoint, the reality is that he will probably have to rack up a couple of more wins against credible opposition before challenging for major titles.
Irrespective of the timeline, however, we will definitely be hearing and seeing a lot more of Beterbiev over the next few years.
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