Photo and Header Photo by Amanda Kwok/PBC on CBS
While Sergey Kovalev holds the WBA, WBO, and IBF Light Heavyweight belts, ask yourself, is Artur Beterbiev (7-0-0, 7 KOs) the true “Beast from the East”?
Beterbiev’s journey to the top of the 175 pound weight division will have to go through surging top-10 contender Gabriel Campillo (25-6-1, 12 KOs) this Saturday, April 4.
While millions of viewers are focusing their interest on Adonis Stevenson vs. Sakio Bika, it will be the eyes of the hardcore boxing fans studying the fast rising, Russian punching-machine.
More intrested in Beterbiev v Campillo than Stevenson v Bika.
— Tony Nash (@mrtonynash) March 26, 2015
In just his eighth fight as a professional, Beterbiev will stand toe-to-toe with the taller and longer Campillo, who has a great deal of experience, and is all-too-familiar with humbling young up-and-comers.
The winner will be the No. 2 ranked contender for Sergey Kovalev’s IBF title, and as long as Kovalev takes care of business against Nadjib Mohammedi this summer, the winner will eventually become Kovalev’s IBF mandatory.
Beterbiev defeated Kovalev twice while in the amateurs, and has been open about wanting a shot at the champion on a professional level.
[otw_shortcode_quote border=”bordered” border_style=”bordered”]“When I step in the ring, I don’t have a friend. I want to continue to get better until I face Sergey Kovalev again, and I will beat him again!”[/otw_shortcode_quote]
Beterbiev’s an extremely promising talent who’s amateur resume speaks for itself, winning the Light Heavyweight gold at the European Amateur Championships in 2006 and 2010, and winning the silver in 2007 and gold in 2010 at the World Amateur Olympics.
He jumped into prizefighting with both feet. While most prospects are fighting no-names in their first fifteen-or-so fights, Beterbiev cemented his status as a “contender” in just his sixth fight with a second round knockout win over ex-IBF title holder, Tavoris Cloud.
Since then, he’s reeled off three straight wins in a row, most notably this impressive fifth-round stoppage of undefeated prospect Thomas Williams Jr. in August 2014.
Expect Beterbiev to manipulate Campillo’s lack of footwork and get inside on the lumbering southpaw, who will be open inside the pocket to Beterbiev’s powerful right hand.
A knockout win would be a statement from Beterbiev, who claims he’s ready for a title shot right now.
[otw_shortcode_quote border=”bordered” border_style=”bordered”]“I like the way I’ve been led in my professional career. I’m training every day and working every day and always thinking about that. I always try to improve and improve my [weak] parts, as part of my preparation. I’m not a future teller. So, I’m ready to meet all the solid opponents. And I’m ready for the championship of the world, and I’m ready for any scenario.”[/otw_shortcode_quote]
For solid opponents, you can look at makeable and potential matchups with the likes of Jean Pascal, Andrzej Fonfara, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., or even Lucian Bute.
By a world title shot, he means against one man, and that’s Kovalev.
The two have even been involved in a war of words through the media, Beterbiev bragging of his wins over Kovalev in the amateurs, and Kovalev responding, “What is it a dream or something,” saying Beterbiev’s wins came in the hands of bad judging, and even saying he would “punish” Beterbiev in a pro fight.
[otw_shortcode_quote border=”bordered” border_style=”bordered”]“Sergey, well he is very ugly [the way he acts] and not professional. You should be a champion who makes a good example for the younger generation… Did you forget for how many years you have been running? Arthur, in a year, is already on a high pro level- so hold your envy in silence.”[/otw_shortcode_quote]
It will be interesting to see if Beterbiev can become the third man on top of a Light Heavyweight division that is relatively shallow throughout, and to see if these two Russian knockout artists, who have a bad history, and who flat-out don’t like each other, can one day meet in the ring again.
Can Artur Beterbiev become the best fighter in the Light Heavyweight division? Please feel free to discuss in our comments section below.