By: Hans Themistode
Andre Ward has always revered Artur Beterbiev. The newly inducted Hall of Famer has marveled at the Russian’s punching power and durability. He’s also credited the unified light heavyweight titlist for having under-the-radar boxing ability.
But while Ward believes Beterbiev is arguably the best in his weight class, he’s also noticed a few alarming trends. At numerous points in Beterbiev’s career, he’s been plagued by inactivity. In 2017 and 2018, the Russian star stepped into the ring only once. In 2020, he failed to compete at all.
This year, Beterbiev has made two successful appearances in the ring. But, despite the uptick in activity, Ward believes that his most recent trip to the squared circle accentuated what could be Beterbiev’s steady decline.
This past weekend, in front of a jam-packed crowd at Bell Centre in Montreal, Beterbiev took on highly ranked contender Marcus Browne. Early on, the 31-year-old enjoyed mountains of success, boxing on the outside and countering when need be. Nevertheless, Beterbiev would eventually find his rhythm and go on to drop and later stop Browne in the ninth round.
Although Ward couldn’t quite pinpoint the unified star’s issue, he believes that his skills could be deteriorating.
“Beterbiev looks very beatable tonight,” said Ward on his social media account as he watched Beterbiev closely. “I don’t know if it’s his age or the layoffs but Beterbiev saw a lot of shots that he could not get off tonight.”
Beterbiev, 36, has experienced his fair share of difficulties in terms of getting marquee names into the ring. He has, however, expressed an interest in facing light heavyweight champions Joe Smith Jr. and Dmitry Bivol. In addition to those names, Beterbiev has kept a close eye on newly-crowned undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez.
In Ward’s opinion, Beterbiev is still an excellent fighter. However, the days of him struggling to find top-level opposition are now officially over.
“You will see more guys trying to fight him now.”
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