Move over, Ivan Drago. There’s a new mad Russian in town and he means business.
By mad, I of course mean that as an ultimate compliment to denote that aggressive, feral, take-no-prisoners approach, favored by Rocky Balboa’s ultimate opponent.
Yes, Artur Beterbiev is Ivan Drago come to life.
UNDEFEATED. He is 16-0 and all his wins have come via the abbreviated route. He is a product of the tough Soviet boxing system where he compiled a sterling amateur record of 295-5, repeatedly winning gold and silver medals at the World Championships.
He turned pro in 2013 and has left behind a trail of destruction, earning him the ring moniker “The Beast.”
Of course, he has his vulnerable moments, like when he tasted his first knockdown at the hands of British fighter Callum Johnson. But he made the latter pay for that by stopping him in the fourth round.
The boxing world really took notice of Beterbiev in October of 2019 when he faced off in a unification bout against fellow unbeaten champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk, a polished, smooth fighter who held the WBC diadem.
Both men had their moments but eventually, Gvozdyk succumbed to Beterbiev’s unrelenting aggression and was stopped in the 10th round.
And last week, Beterbiev mowed down Adam Deines, a tough German banger who couldn’t stand the systemic beating handed to him, forcing his corner to throw in the towel in the 10th round.
CANELO. At the rate he is going, Beterbiev could soon be running out of opponents in the 190 lb. division. Things could have been interesting had Saul Alvarez opted to stay at the light heavyweight division after he moved up in weight and defeated Sergey Kovalev to annex the WBO title.
Instead he opted to move down to the Super-middleweight division, leaving pundits only their fertile imaginations as to what might have happened had these two fought.
For what it’s worth, I thought Canelo would have bitten off more than he could chew against Beterbiev and it was thus, a wise move for him to avoid “The Beast.”
Growing up in Dagestan, the same place where undefeated UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov hails from, you have to wonder if there’s something in the water that brings them that hale, vigorous physique with almost freakish levels of strength and endurance.
VERBATIM. “I think we need to run some tests to see if he is actually human.” — Promoter Eddie Hearn (www.fighthype.com)
LAST ROUND. It’s on a dear friend, Hazel Quiletorio-Ypil, who turns a milestone next week. Happy birthday and cheers!