Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) won the vacant IBF Light Heavyweight title with a 12-round KO of Enrico Kolling (23-2, 6 KOs) on Saturday at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
Beterbiev dropped Kolling twice in the 12th round and controlled the pace throughout the fight. This bout was supposed to be a world-title eliminator to earn a mandatory shot at Andre Ward, but Ward retired in September, vacating all three Light Heavyweight world-title belts.
Beterbiev pressed the action, but Kolling was on the defensive the entire fight. Kolling respected the power of Beterbiev, keeping his guard up. Beterbiev began throwing more combinations in Round 4.
With Kolling looking to survive, Beterbiev was content with controlling the fight and winning rounds. Beterbiev landed a good jab followed by a right hand around Kolling’s glove in the seventh round.
Fans were disappointed with the lack of action in the middle rounds, but Beterbiev began to land more shots around the guard of Kolling in the final two rounds.
Beterbiev split the guard with a right hand that hurt Kolling in the 11th round and in Round 12, Kolling dropped to a knee after a hard uppercut by Beterbiev.
Moments later Kolling hit the canvas again after catching a looping right hand. Referee Dr. Lou Moret stopped the bout at 2:33, giving Beterbiev the stoppage victory.