Just over a week ago Artur Beterbiev and Anthony Yarde gave us one of the best world title fights we have seen for quite some time for the WBC, WBO and IBF world titles, rocking each other with heavy and constant barrages and setting a lightning pace in Wembley arena. In Yarde the 38 year old Russian found the toughest and trickiest opponent of his illustrious career but still managed to find a way to stop the London man in the 8th round.
The obvious next opponent for the hard hitting Russian is his fellow countryman Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed crown, provided that the obstacle of the ordered WBC mandatory against former super middleweight champion Callum Smith can be avoided or postponed.
Bivol is coming off of a career defining upset win against pound for pound great Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and followed that up with an impressive beatdown of Gilberto Ramirez. He’s not the largest light-heavyweight and does not always sit down on his punches, though he has real power which he has showcased in previous fights he chooses rather to utilise the very simple but effective soviet style of long range in and out boxing, similar to Beterbiev but with greater emphasis on footwork. Both men are upright, textbook boxers with incredible talent but Bivol is 6 years younger and has shown a greater repertoire of skills.
As we have seen 19 times now Beterbiev carries absolutely awe inspiring power, it’s as if his fists are coated with dynamite and just take a look at his training videos on youtube and social media, where he can be seen twirling a 20 kilogram Olympic bar with one hand like a cheerleader with a baton or his hand conditioning routine in which he takes a push up position switching from his finger tips, back of his hands and knuckles in an oddly rhythmic routine.
And he’s not just a big lump with a bit of fire power, he’s a master boxer with over three hundred amateur bouts under his belt. Simple but very affective footwork helps him to cut off the ring rather than merely stalk his victims, an educated and probing jab scores and opens his opponents guard for him to land highly accurate and soul crushing power punches and even at the age of thirty 38 the Canada based Russian still shows tremendous stamina and durability.
But he is certainly not without his faults. As was demonstrated on Saturday night and beautifully exposed by Yarde and his exceptional tactics. Beterbiev has the habit of leaning his head over his front knee and leaving himself exposed to sharp counter attacks, especially left hooks which Yarde landed with ease, particularly in the early rounds, Yarde also showed that Beterbiev is very susceptible to being spun and turned by his opponents, like heavyweight Joe Joyce he is a tad robotic and as we have known for quite some time he is more than comfortable mixing it up with his opponents, he actually seems to rather enjoy it but this has landed him in trouble before and his feathers looked ruffled on more than a couple of occasions on Saturday night but try as he might Yarde could not quite deliver a killer blow.
As good as Yarde was on Saturday night and he was very good the Londoner lacks the one thing that will truly trouble Beterbiev, Punch selection.
Yes he landed his swiping and spiteful left hook with relative ease and tagged Beterbiev with straight rights and then later had success with powerful uppercuts but after a while this became a predictable pattern which the Russian recognised and though he may not have been able to block and parry all of these attacks he could brace and ride the shots.
Dmitry Bivol may have the best punch selection and boxing IQ in the sport and definitely at 175 pounds. He effortlessly opened up Canelo’s guard by varying his punches from head to body, probing to the head with his jab, followed by straight rights to the body and mixing hooks to the body with tidy and powerful hooks back upstairs to the head. He then did much of the same to the far larger Ramirez in November last year.
This ability to throw the right shots at the right time, sublime footwork and the comfortableness of which he handles 12 rounds mixed with his relative youth leads me to believe that Bivol will have just a bit to much for Beterbiev and may even push for a late stoppage.
Or Beterbiev Knocks him out early. The man is a monster.