Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs), the man who holds an undefeated record compiled solely of knockout victories (the best knockout rate among all active champions), returned to the ring to defend his IBF and WBC Light Heavyweight titles and add to his impressive record against former interim champion Marcus Browne (24-2, 16 KOs). He did both.
Turning 37 in January 2022, Beterbiev entered the ring with aim of dispelling any thoughts of his skills and abilities devolving at his, in terms of professional athletes, advanced age. Despite this, the champion was competing in what was only his 17th professional bout against Browne. And, as surmised by his record, Beterbiev has rarely experienced anything in the ring to impede on his longevity.
On the other hand, Browne at age 31 has faced his fair share of trials inside and outside of the ring. Following his defeat of then-interim champion, Badou Jack, Browne failed to defend the title against Jean Pascal in a loss that saw him on the canvas several times.
Although displaying strong outside boxing ability in a number of his fights, many pundits viewed the matchup to be less than favorable for Browne against such a devastating power puncher having displayed the propensity of being clipped by big shots.
To begin the fight, Beterbiev did what he often does, apply forward pressure without much offensive output. Browne, although more active, was made uncomfortable by the constant forward movement by the champion.
Browne had early success, particularly with his jab and left to the body while nullifying the champion’s jab for the first couple of rounds. But, like all of his opponents before, Beterbiev eventually wore his challenger down.
The real action of the fight commenced in the second half of the third round and into the fourth as both men were cut badly from a clash of heads. Not to be bullied, Browne fired back each time the champion let his hands go. As the bout evolved into a more physical affair, the contender remained composed and confident in his ability to match the firepower of the knockout artist.
At the beginning of the fifth round, the ringside physician notified the referee that Beterbiev had only one more round due to the severity of the cut. With that added desperation, the champion came out with ferocity. He ended the round swarming the contender on the ropes, letting off a barrage of hard shots. Even so, Browne remained a willing and engaged partner in what was quickly turning into a brutal and bloody meeting.
Despite this warning from the referee and doctor, the fight continued and Beterbiev experienced growing success against a game challenger as his power shots began to find their home with regularity.
Finally, culminating with a left hook to the body and a right hand upstairs, Beterbiev sent his adversary to the canvas. Browne returned to his feet, but as he retreated into a defensive shell, it appeared clear the end of the fight was nearing.
To Browne’s credit, he continued to fight valiantly until he had finally received enough punishment and fell to the canvas for the second and final time. With his opponent hurt and on the ropes, Beterbiev unleashed a devastating attack to the head and body to end a good night’s work.
In another knockout victory, Beterbiev yet again proved to be one of boxing’s most explosive offensive technicians. In defeat, Browne fought admirably to establish his worth as a top contender. The champion, although aging, proved he still has enough heart, grit and ability to overcome in-ring turbulence and to compete with the best in the world.
The question now: Who’s next?