Perhaps the biggest puncher in boxing today, Artur Beterbiev is on the cusp of a Light-Heavyweight World Title challenge after just 10 professional contests.
The undefeated Russian fights Isidro Ranoni Prieto live on BoxNation this Friday, with his eye on bigger challenges with the top dogs at 175lbs, such as Andre Ward, Adonis Stevenson or countryman Sergey Kovalev.
Promoter Yvon Michel revealed to Réseau des sports this week that Beterbiev will fight in an IBF final eliminator in America in February, and also mapped out their 2017 plans. This is assuming the Beast from the East, who boasts a 100% knockout ratio, continues his destructive form against Prieto.
“Then we are going to bring Beterbiev here [to Canada] so he can box on the same card as Adonis Stevenson in April,” he told the television network. “The next fight after that is going to be for a World Championship.”
Considering that Beterbiev is currently ranked highly across all four governing bodies; number two with the IBF, three with the WBA and WBO, and four with the WBC, the winner of the potential Ward-Kovalev fight would have to face him sooner rather than later.
Ward ripped away Kovalev’s WBO, IBF and WBA baubles last month to become the top fighter in the division, with the pair possibly set for a rematch early next year.
The American’s impressive inside game was very noticeable against Kovalev, holding and landing short punches in the second half of the fight. Yet Beterbiev’s strength up close, coupled with his ability to fire quick shots at close range, could possibly give the 31-year-old an advantage over Ward.
Meanwhile, an all-Russian World Title bout with Sergey Kovalev is also a fight Beterbiev would relish. ‘The Wolf’ conquered Kovalev on two occasions in the unpaid ranks, including a semi-final victory at the 2007 World Amateur Championships. He went on to win a silver medal there before taking gold at the same event two years later.
As well as Ward, there is another man who holds a share of the Light-Heavyweight crown - Adonis Stevenson. Michel, who promotes both boxers, seems very keen on making the fight and at 39, Stevenson’s career may be coming to a close. The quest to become Quebec’s number one Light-Heavy would do big business in Canada, Beterbiev and Stevenson’s adopted residence.
Elsewhere in the intriguing weight-class, BoxNation viewers recently witnessed upset victories for Joe Smith Jr and Sullivan Barrera over Bernard Hopkins and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. Both winners will also want to challenge for a title next year.
For Beterbiev, he must avoid any slip-ups against Prieto and ensure he continues to impress. He has walked through all of his opponents since turning professional in 2013, and is yet to go past the seventh round. In 2017, a new boxing star could be born.