No.2 IBF light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs) showed last Friday night that he’s ready to take on IBF/WBA/WBO 175lb champion Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and beat him after his very impressive 1st round knockout win over Isidro Ranoni Prieto (26-2-3, 22 KOs) at the Lac Leamy Casino, in Gatineau, Quebec). Beterbiev twice knocked Prieto down with short power shots on the inside. The fight was history after the second knockdown.
Beterbiev looks ready to take on Ward and beat him. A lot of boxing fans are saying today that Beterbiev stands a better chance of defeating Ward than Kovalev does. The explanation for that is because Beterbiev’s fighting style is grounded on his A-level fighting ability on the inside. That’s where Beterbiev really excels.
Some boxing fans would argue that Beterbiev was beaten by a fighter that used nonstop grappling against him in the 2008 Beijing Olympics in his loss to Zhang Xiaoping. Beterbiev lost that fight by an 8-2 score with Xiaoping wrestling him the entire fight. However, the results of that match were very controversial, as Beterbiev landed countless shots that were not scored by the judges that worked the fight. Moreover, the referee allowed Xiaoping wrestle Beterbiev the entire fight without taking points off or doing anything to stop the Chinese fighter from spoiling. Ward’s fighting style is a lot like Xiaoping’s with his holding and wrestling. However, Beterbiev is so powerful on the inside and capable of throwing short shots while being wrestled. It’s quite possible Ward would be knocked out very quickly. Ward and his trainer Virgil Hunter will watch Beterbiev’s fight against Xiaoping from the 2008 Olympics and look to use the same wrestling tactics that Xiaoping employed to try and beat him.
It’s going to be tough for Ward to win that kind of fight, because Beterbiev is stronger, older and not the 23-year-old kid that fought that fight. The judges did a poor job of scoring that fight in my view, because I had Beterbiev winning that fight 20-2. It was a total mismatch even with Xiaoping hanging on Beterbiev for the entire fight. In a 12 round fight, Beterbiev would be in the position to take the judges out of the contest by knocking Ward out in close.
The victory for the 31-year-old Beterbiev sent a message to Andre Ward and the other champions in the light heavyweight division that there’s a no kid in town and his name is Beterbiev. The fight that the two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev wants is to face the winner of the eventual rematch between Ward and Kovalev. That fight is expected to be held in the first half of 2017. I would say the first quarter of the year, but it’s possible that Ward may drag out the negotiations for the fight until mid-year. The terms for the Ward-Kovalev rematch are already in the contract for the first fight, but there’s still going to be negotiations with the contract likely being redone to give Ward a better deal than what was spelled out.