By: Hans Themistode
Unified light heavyweight titlist Artur Beterbiev was hoping to parlay a career-best win over Oleksandr Gvozdyk into more activity in the ring and a larger fan base outside of it.
However, due to various reasons, it was the complete opposite. Following Beterbiev’s stoppage victory, the newly crowned unified titlist was scheduled to take on top ten contender Adam Deines on October 23rd. Those plans though, were immediately pushed back to January 30th due to a rib injury.
Once again, however, those plans were transient as Beterbiev tested positive for COVID-19. Now, with a completely healthy Beterbiev, the Russian star is pegged to return to the ring against Deines on March 20th.
Needless to say, promoter Bob Arum simply can’t wait to see another explosive performance.
“At long last, Artur Beterbiev will defend his world titles as he looks to kick off his 2021 campaign in devastating fashion,” said Arum on a Top Rank press release. “We have big plans for Artur, but he must first take care of business in Moscow.”
Those aforementioned plans could mean a variety of things for the Russian product. For starters, WBA belt holder Dmitry Bivol has long eyed a possible showdown between the two. A trip to the Cruiserweight division has also briefly been discussed.
Regardless of what the future holds, Beterbiev is laser-focused on the present.
“I am excited to finally have a date for the fight. Now that COVID-19 and the injury are behind me, I am able to prepare well and put on a great show for boxing fans.”
By: Hans Themistode
Before Artur Beterbiev defends both his IBF and WBC light heavyweight world titles, he’ll need to get healthy first. The unified champion’s title defense against fringe contender Adam Deines, which was set for October 23rd, will now edge closer to the end of the year as Beterbiev has suffered a rib injury during training.
A new date has not yet been named, but per a TopRank press release, they fully expect him to enter the ring before the year comes to a close.
For the Russian native, he just hasn’t been able to build off his recent success. In October of 2019, Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) found himself on the winning side of a unification matchup with then undefeated WBC belt holder Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
After getting out boxed during the early rounds, Beterbiev’s non-stop pressure finally cracked his man. He tagged Gvozdyk in the tenth round to the tune of three knockdowns during the period before ultimately scoring the stoppage. The win not only gifted him with another world title, but it also preserved his perfect record and knockout ratio.
Yet, with a global pandemic, coupled with now injured ribs, Beterbiev’s ring return has been stymied.
The number six IBF contender in Deines (19-1-1, 10 KOs) won’t complain and will use the extra time to prepare.
After coming off a close loss against Fanlong Meng in mid 2019, Deines has reeled off back to back stoppage victories. With his confidence soaring and Beterbiev inching towards 36 years of age, the 29 year old Deines will look to take full advantage when he gets his first crack at a world title later on this year.
By: Hans Themistode
Artur Beterbiev has a lot of options on the table. The unified Light Heavyweight champion is fresh off a win against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and is the clear cut choice when choosing the best fighter in the division. Fights against WBA belt holder Dmitry Bivol and Gilberto Ramirez make a ton of sense. Even a contest with Canelo Alvarez, albeit unlikely, could be in his immediate future.
Although Beterbiev wants all of those aforementioned names, a matchup with former undisputed Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, is the one he wanted the most.
“I had a purely sporting interest in being able to box with Usyk when he became the absolute champion [at cruiserweight],” Beterbiev said to Tass.
“I was in the process of negotiating a contract with both Top Rank and Matchroom Boxing. The proposals from each were almost the same. I told my managers that if Eddie Hearn (head of Matchroom Boxing) guarantees me a fight in the cruiserweight division with Usyk, then I will sign a contract with them. They took their time, but there were no answers from them.”
Oleksandr Usyk vs Artur Beterbiev on paper looks like a great matchup. But it doesn’t exactly fit. The two competed in divisions that are separated by 25 pounds and never seemed to be on a collision course. Yet, even while the two undefeated fighters never seemed like a perfect pairing, it turns out that they were actually made for one another.
Before both men cruised through their respective divisions, they ran right through the amateur scene. Usyk ended his unpaid career at 335-15, while Beterbiev finished off with an even better record at 295-5. But while Beterbiev had the edge in terms of record, Usyk got the last laugh when they met in 2011 and 2012. During their first go round, Beterbiev dropped Usyk with a body shot at the World Championships. Usyk shook it off and grabbed the victory. In the 2012 Olympics they met again. And just like their first matchup, Usyk squeaked by with a decision before winning gold.
Their rivalry might be nearly a decade old, but Beterbiev hasn’t forgotten anything.
“Maybe they were not interested, but I had a purely competitive interest [to fight Usyk]. We [me and Usyk] have history.”
By: Hans Themistode
Much like every other sport, boxing has come to a complete stop due to the Coronavirus. But promoter Bob Arum is trying to play his part to get it going once again.
When news broke of the Coronavirus or otherwise known as Covid-19, putting an end to roughly every sport around the world, fans could hardly believe it. Arum, like many other promoters, was forced to put several of his shows on ice.
WBO Featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson and Featherweight contender Michael Conlan were set to headline their own cards on the 14th and 17th of March, in Madison Square Garden, in New York City. But not anymore. With two of Arums shows already sidelined, the 88 year old promoter is looking into unique ways to salvage the few remaining cards he already has booked on the boxing schedule.
“We’re gonna try to set up a studio atmosphere in Vegas, so we can do fights maybe,” Arum said during Friday’s episode of “The Ak & Barak Show” on SiriusXM. “You know, ESPN, unfortunately for them, doesn’t have content. They don’t have the NBA, they don’t have college basketball, they don’t have the women’s tournament. So, they’re gonna need content. And we can provide content. We’ve talked to the athletic commission here [in Nevada], doing fights in a studio. But we’ve got to get the testing done. We’ve gotta get enough tests here, so that we can test the fighters before the fights, so we can show that they do not have the virus. Or, if they have the virus, they can’t fight. I mean, that’s what we’re working on.”
The first of Arums shows that would be heading towards a studio like setting would be his March 28th, event which was set to take place at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada. Headlining that card would be unified Light Heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) and IBF mandatory challenger Meng Fanlong (16-0, 10 KOs).
Next up of the Top Rank schedule is an April 25th, showdown between pound for pound star and unified Bantamweight champ Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) and WBO title holder John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs). One week later, unified Lightweight champ Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) was set to make his Top Rank debut against Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs).
With both events most likely to be postponed, Arum is hoping he can still put on shows while this pandemic is currently being sorted out.
Most recently, the UFC kept their event alive by banning fans from entering the arena. Boxing could be following in those same footsteps. It may not be ideal or fun for the fighters involved but at this point, it’s better than nothing.
by Johnny Walker
This afternoon at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Canada, Quebec-based fighters ruled the day as lineal light-heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson cruised to a win over tough veteran Sakio Bika, while the most impressive performance was delivered by rapidly rising star Artur Bieterbiev, who showed supreme ring acumen and frightening power in disposing of challenger Gabriel Campillo via a crushing knockout.
In the first televised bout as CBS got back into the boxing game on Saturday afternoons, Artur Bieterbiev of Russia, now based in Montreal, made it clear why light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, who has been squabbling with the Bieterbiev camp for the last few weeks in increasingly nasty back-and-forth exchanges, sees his Russian rival as such a threat.
Quite frankly, Bieterbiev (8-0, 8 KOs) looks ready to challenge anybody in the light-heavyweight division right now.
He dominated Campillo (25-7-1, 12 KOs) from the opening bell, dropping the challenger in round one via a sweeping right hand power shot. Campillo survived though veteran skill and savvy, but it was already clear that it was just a matter of time.
Astutely, after seeing that a head shot didn’t do in his opponent immediately, Bieterbiev then spent rounds two and three pounding the body of Campillo as if the latter were a heavy bag in the gym. Even the thudding sound of his shots hurt to listen to, so one can imagine being on the end of them. Campillo’s strength was rapidly ebbing as round three came to a close, Bieterbiev landing a big right hand that sent the wincing opponent to his corner. Campillo was clearly just about done.
Bieterbiev smelled blood and came out in round four determined to close the show. After a few more brutal body shots that brought Campillo’s hands down, the Russian went upstairs for a vicious right hand that knocked his opponent senseless, followed by a left that a sporting Bieterbiev appeared to partly pull as he merely turned away, his opponent’s body slumping toward the mat.
Artur Bieterbiev was declared winner by knockout at 2:23 of round four.
“I’m very happy to be on the big stage on CBS at such an early point in my professional career. This all came together very quickly and I hope to be back soon,” said the impressive Bieterbiev.
“We’re planning to fight again in May and I’ll leave whoever my opponent will be in God’s hands.”
Then came time for hometown Haitian-Canadian hero Adonis “Superman” Stevenson to make his appearance against veteran Sakio Bika.
To no one’s surprise, the always tough and awkward Bika put up a decent challenge for the champion, who is actually two years older than Bika.
But the pupil of the late Emanuel Steward and product of Kronk Gym in Detroit mostly has it his own way for the 12 round affair.
Stevenson (26-1, 21 KOs) had hoped to be the first man to knock Bika (32-7-3, 21 KOs) out, but had to settle for knocking him down twice, once albeit more a slip than a knockdown.
After an even opening round, Stevenson gradually managed to warm-up and staggered Bika with a patented left hand power shot in round two. Bika rallied in round three, landing some solid left jabs and a hard right, these perhaps nullified by a wicked left hand scored by “Superman” at the bell to end the round.
Stevenson was in his comfort zone by round four, landing huge left hands for fun and totally outclassing the game Bika.
In round five, Bika was clearly shaken by a left hand and went to the mat in what was called a slip. He was soon hurt again and Stevenson was enjoying himself enough to do some Ali-style clowning with a “bolo-punch” wind-up at the round’s end. The next round played out much the same way, with Bika attempting to rally, only to be cut short by another hard left from Adonis, in which Bika hit the mat in another “slip.” After scoring with some huge body shots, a confident Stevenson then did his version of the “Ali-shuffle” to entertain the fans.
Stevenson took a round off in stanza seven, and Bika did his best to take advantage of that occurrence, scoring with nice right hook and doing enough to perhaps win a round.
Bika tried to keep that momentum in round eight, trading some hard left hand shots with Stevenson, and again, maybe stealing a round from the champ.
Stevenson got his second wind in round nine. After landing some nifty combinations, “Superman” softened Bika up with a massive shot to the body, bringing the latter’s hands down just in time for a short hard left to connect with his chin, and Bika was now on the mat with a legitmate knockdown.
Round 10 saw Stevenson with visions of being the first man to stop the rugged Bika dancing in his head, and he scored at will with combinations and huge left hands, but Bika hung in there, as is his trademark, and even staged a mini-comeback in round 11, scoring with a big left-right combo of his own.
Round 12 was an entertaining exercise in machismo, as after a period spent mugging each other on the ropes, Stevenson basically offered up his supposedly fragile chin for Bika to smack, and proved that even a solid connect by his opponent only brought laughter from the champ. Both men than engaged in some gunslinger antics, egging each other on in toughman contest style. After absorbing a big right hand from Bika, a bemused Stevenson offered up another version of the “Ali Shuffle” (the “Superman Shuffle”?) to end the fight.
The scores were a bit closer than might have been anticipated in the champion’s home province: 115-111, 116-110, and 115-110, all for the winner, Adonis Stevenson.
“He’s a tough fighter,” “Superman” said of Bika after the match. “I dropped him, but he’s a tough competitor.
“Being involved with Premier Boxing Champions and fighting on CBS has been a great experience. This is fantastic for boxing and we’re hoping more and more kids will start getting involved in the sport.
“As far as what’s next, I’ll wait and see what Al (Haymon) has for me. I’ll be ready to go again by June or July.”
Stevenson also thanked his late Hall of Fame trainer, Emanuel Steward, following his victory.
By: William Holmes
Boxing returns to network television on Saturday afternoon as Adonis “Superman” Stevenson defends his WBC Light Heavyweight title against the always dangerous Sakio Bika in Quebec City, Canada.
Stevenson is considered by many to be one of the top two light heavyweights along with his rival Sergey Kovalev and most boxing fans are hoping that fight can be made if Stevenson can defeat Bika. However, another light heavyweight contender in Artur Beterbiev will look to throw his name into the light heavyweight mix as he takes on Gabriel Campillo in an IBF Light Heavyweight eliminator.
The following is a preview of both televised bouts:
Artur Beterbiev (7-0) vs. Gabriel Campillo (25-6-1); IBF Light Heavyweight Eliminator
Artur Beterbiev is a young undefeated prospect with a very high ceiling and a very successful amateur career. He represented Russia in the 2008 Olmypics, and won the gold medal in the 2009 World Amateur Championships as a light heavyweight.
All seven of Beterbiev’s opponents have lost to him by stoppage and nobody that he has ever faced has managed to make it past the fourth round.
Campillo is best known for two fights in which he officially lost but most observers felt he won. He was on the wrong end of a controversial decision at least twice, to former light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud and to Beibut Shumenov.
Beterbiev is six years younger than Campillo at thirty years old, but he will be giving up about three inches in height and about three inches in reach. Beterbiev has a knockout ration of 100% at this point in his young career, while Campillo has only stopped twelve of his opponents out of twenty-five bouts.
Despite the fact he has only fought as a professional for less than two years, Beterbiev has been tested inside the ring both as an amateur and as a professional. In addition to his amateur accomplishments, he has already stopped former champion Cloud in the second round and also stopped the then undefeated Jeff Page Jr. in the second round.
Campillo lost some questionable decisions, but he has also lost to some notable competition. His losses have come against Andrzej Fonfara, Sergey Kovalev, Tavoris Cloud, Karo Murat, Beibut Shumenov. His most notable wins have come against Thomas Williams Jr. and Beibut Shumenov.
Beterbiev has a very high level ceiling and is currently in negotiations to be represented by Al Haymon. Beterbiev is a talent and this writer expects him to win convincingly and impressively on Saturday night, putting himself in a position for a legitimate world title shot before his tenth professional fight.
Adonis Stevenson (25-1) vs. Sakio Bika (32-6-3); WBC Light Heavyweight Title
If you just look at their ages you would be surprised that Stevenson and Bika are fighting as the main event on network television. Stevenson is thirty-seven and Bika is thirty-five going on thirty-six. Both, at a glance, would appear to be clearly past their prime.
However, both boxers have not shown much of a decline in recent fights and are considered by most to be amongst the best in the light heavyweight division.
Stevenson started boxing late in comparison to most other professional boxers, and won the Canadian national amateur title twice. Bika was a member of the 2000 Cameroonian Olympic Team, but did not medal in the Olympics.
Stevenson and Bika are close in age and in height, but Stevenson has an imposing six inch reach advantage over Bika. Additionally, Bika started off his career as a junior middleweight and is naturally the smaller man.
Stevenson’s southpaw style gives most of his opponents problems and he has shown that he has incredible knockout power. Stevenson has stopped twenty one of his opponents, including four of his past five wins. Bika has also stopped twenty one of his opponents, but he has had more fights and only has one stoppage victory in his past five fights.
Stevenson’s lone loss came against the always tricky Darnell Boone in 2010, a loss he later avenged with a sixth round knockout. He has also defeated the likes of Aaron Pryor Jr., Chad Dawson, Tavoris Cloud, Tony Bellew, Andrzej Fonfara, and Dmitry Sukhotsky.
Bika’s most famous accomplishment was winning The Contender in 2007. He has also defeated the likes of Marco Periban, Nikola Sjekloca, Dyah Davis, Peter Manfredo Jr., and Sam Soliman. Bika does have six losses and they have come against top notch competition such as Lucian Bute, Andre Ward, Jean-Paul Mendy, and Anthony Dirrell.
Bika will make this a tough and rough fight for Stevenson, but he usually struggles against slick and talented boxers. Bika has a sturdy chin and has never been stopped in his career, so it’s likely he’ll go the distance on Saturday, but unlikely he’ll be able to beat the current WBC Light Heavyweight Champion.
Stevenson should win on Saturday against the smaller opponent and will hopefully give fans the fight they’ve been clamoring for, a light heavyweight unification bout against Sergey Kovalev.
By Jeremy Herriges
Saturday, March 14th on HBO, Sergey Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) will defend his share of the light heavyweight title against Haitian-Canadian Jean Pascal (29-2-1, 19 KOs) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.
For the last two years, Sergey Kovalev has dominated the light heavyweight division. In 2013, an unknown Kovalev made the most of his title shot against then undefeated Welshman Nathan Cleverly. Kovalev was supposed to be just a contender, even though he entered the fight with 19 wins by knockout and no losses on his record.
Cleverly was supposed to be the new golden boy of the light heavyweight division, but Kovalev had other plans. He massacred Cleverly, knocking him down twice in the third round and forcing a referee stoppage in the fourth. The rest is history as they say.
Since the Cleverly fight, Kovalev has gone on to display masterful knockout power, knocking out three of his last four opponents. The only fighter in this group to sustain a full 12-round beating was the legendary Bernard Hopkins. It should also be noted that Kovalev put Hopkins down in round one and arguably gave Hopkins the worst loss of his career.
Now, Sergey Kovalev is a boxing superstar. His dominance makes him part of most boxing experts’ pound-for-pound best list.
Recently, I had a chance to talk to Sergey Kovalev and his manager Egis Klimas. It would be easy to see how a boxer with the meteoric success that Kovalev has been blessed with over the last couple of years could develop an inflated ego, but that’s not the case with Kovalev. He doesn’t see himself as a superstar.
“I’m doing my job,” said Kovalev. “If people think that I’m becoming a star, then that’s just a big complement for me.”
In a sport and time where showmanship has become the centerpiece of self-promotion, it is refreshing to see that one of boxing’s biggest and brightest is humble and selfless. Kovalev’s demeanor and attitude speak volumes about his focus going into his fight with Jean Pascal.
When asked about his opinion of Pascal’s boxing ability, Kovalev displayed respect for his opponent.
“He’s a dangerous boxer,” said Kovalev. “He’s got [a] hard punch. For me this will be a very interesting fight. It will be a good test.”
Even though Kovalev is a heavy betting favorite, he is not overlooking Jean Pascal’s ability. He seems to show a level of humility that is becoming a rare commodity in the sport of boxing.
On a humorous note, while talking about Pascal, Egis Klimas (Kovalev’s manager) reminded me that Pascal is the putting his WBC Diamond belt on the line, which was news to Kovalev.
“I didn’t know that Pascal [was] bringing the WBC Diamond belt. That means I will kick his ass even more,” exclaimed Kovalev in laughter.
While most don’t see Pascal as a threat to Kovalev, he does have the home field advantage. The fight is taking place in Montreal, Quebec, which is where Pascal lives. Kovalev will be facing a hostile audience in addition to his opponent, but doesn’t seem fazed.
“For me it doesn’t matter where I’m fighting,” said Kovalev. “If he wants to fight at home I’m ready. Kick his ass at home, for all his fans.”
While Kovalev has shown Jean Pascal respect, an area of contention between the two camps has revolved around drug testing. Pascal’s camp asked for additional drug testing from a company of their choice. Kovalev and his camp were put off by this request. He sees this as theatrics on Pascal’s part.
“I think Pascal is scared and he’s looking for any opportunity to get annoyed with me,” said Kovalev. “We will give a drug test before the fight and after the fight. I think it’s enough.”
Egis Klimas echoed Kovalev’s sentiments: “He [Pascal] cannot dictate what we are going to do,” said Klimas. “Sergey is a champion. He is bringing in three titles. He is coming to Canada and now he is going to tell him what to do? It’s unfair.”
Outside of his upcoming fight with Pascal, former Russian amateur boxing teammate and rising prospect Artur Beterbiev, has been vocal in the media attempting to talk his way into a future fight with Kovalev. Beterbiev has only fought in seven professional fights, so it seems unlikely that he will be in line for a title shot anytime soon. Both Kovalev and Klimas confirmed that this is the case.
In regards to Beterbiev, Kovalev said, “Right now he’s nobody. And he will be nobody for later.”
Klimas quickly added, “He will need to go a long way to reach where Sergey is at now.”
Before planning begins for his next fight, Kovalev still has to dispatch Pascal. Former champion Roy Jones Jr., who also works as an assistant coach for Jean Pascal, has told numerous media outlets that he thinks that Pascal can beat Kovalev.
Kovalev doesn’t see much merit in Jones’s words. “He’s [Jones] saying [sic] press. He’s promoting the fight,” said Kovalev.
Even though he is very confident in his abilities and training, Kovalev is making sure to not look past Pascal. When asked to offer up a fight prediction and if he thought he would be victorious Kovalev told me, “I don’t know because it’s boxing. Who will win? We don’t know. Nobody will know. Only God knows.”
During my time talking to Kovalev, I would say that he is focused, determined and ready for anything that Pascal has to throw at him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sergey Kovalev handed Jean Pascal the first knockout loss of his career.
The real question that should be on fight fans’ minds is if there is anybody in the light heavyweight division that can defeat Kovalev. There might be, but I doubt that it is Jean Pascal. Look for a motivated Kovalev to show the world why he is boxing’s next great superstar.