Thursday, April 18, 2024  |

By Anson Wainwright | 

Fighter of the Month

When Artur Beterbiev entered the ring in London to defend his IBF, WBC and WBO light heavyweight titles against Anthony Yarde, he did so as a heavy favorite. 

However, the defending champion knew he’d have to walk through fire in Yarde’s home country, and indeed, the two exchanged heavy leather throughout a back-and-forth encounter. But despite Yarde having his successes, Beterbiev remained calm, believing his heavy hands would ultimately to take their toll. And they did.

The 38-year-old Russian hurt Yarde and dropped the Brit midway through Round 8 — and once Beterbiev has you hurt, you’re in a world of trouble. He never let his victim recover, forcing Yarde’s corner to pull their man out at 2:01 of the eighth round.

Beterbiev, who during a stellar amateur career won a slew of titles, most notably the 2009 world championship, sports a perfect  19-0 (19 knockouts) ledger, having claimed his first title (IBF) in November 2017.

Just to reiterate: That’s a 100 percent knockout ratio. He’s extremely heavy-handed and possesses sound fundamentals from his vast amateur career. Each punch is measured and destructive, leaving an imprint on the person who receives the blow. Beterbiev is far more than a walk-forward pressure fighter; he’s very calculated and measured in his approach. 

He and his team want WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol next, but it doesn’t appear to be in the cards. Instead, Beterbiev is most likely to face WBC mandatory and former super middleweight beltholder Callum Smith later this year. But for now, Beterbiev is The Ring’s February 2023 Fighter of the Month.