Unstoppable is the word many would use to describe the current unified light-heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev. His second-round demolition job over the hard-hitting everyman Joe Smith Jr was a sight to behold. The crushing blows from the Dagestani-Canadian sent the Long Island native to an early defeat, securing his 100% finish rate. Now holding the WBO, IBF, and WBC titles, there is one man in his way to becoming the undisputed king of the light-heavyweight division. Who’s next for Artur Beterbiev?
Dmitry Bivol – Path to Undisputed
After outclassing pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez on May 7th this year, Dmitry Bivol‘s stock rose to new heights. His performance against Canelo was a calculated, flawless affair, where the talented Dmitry Bivol used his superior technicality to frustrate and outwork his hard-hitting counterpart. His jab, off-rhythm 1-2 combinations, impregnable defense, and superior footwork caused a shock outcome against the ambitious Mexican. These weapons would serve him well against the durable workhorse in Beterbiev.
Both Beterbiev and Bivol are currently the two best fighters at 175lbs, with both holding their own parts of the undisputed pie. Not only would this be a dream match-up stylistically, but it is the fight boxing fans have been wanting for a while now, especially with both men having had such dominant performances in their last outings.
However, boxing for the foreseeable future will be tainted by politics, an unfortunate side-effect when such large sums of money are on the table. Therefore, it is healthy to manage your expectations in the sport of boxing, especially when it comes to the best fighting the best. While Bivol vs Beterbiev is likely to happen down the line, it is likely not next for Artur Beterbiev.
Anthony Yarde – WBO Mandatory
The current WBO mandatory challenger, Anthony Yarde, is confident to cause an upset against Beterbiev. Sitting in attendance for Beterbiev vs Smith Jr, Yarde weighed in on his potential next opponent, stating:
“Beterbiev is coming to London, we are going to make it happen.
“It’s a lot of money but where I come from, I see it as an opportunity to try and make a legacy.
“Money runs out but legacy lives on forever. The preparation will begin intensely as soon as I get back to London. I’ll shock a lot of people. I’m quite confident.
“He showed what he is – very strong and a good power-puncher. Smith’s tactics played into the hands of Beterbiev. He could have gone in with more confidence, more jabs, and more footwork.”
The confident Londoner thinks he has the formula to dethrone the newly crowned WBO champion, adding:
“The key to beating Beterbiev is to be sharper, quicker, more intelligent and we’ll see on fight night. From what I saw today, he’s a heavy hitter but he was just swinging shots over the top.
“As you’ve seen in boxing time and time again, the punch that hurts the most, is the punch you don’t see. To me, they both looked slow.”
Anthony Yarde is a solid fighter, with his valiant loss to Sergey Kovalev and his revenge KO win over rival Lyndon Arthur, Yarde still has a way to go if he wants to be considered the best. This being his second swing at a world championship, he will assuredly be looking to cause a huge upset over the unstoppable force of the light-heavyweight division. While Yarde may not be the fan’s ideal match-up for the champ, he is likely next for Artur Beterbiev.
Who Does Artur Beterbiev Want Next?
Taking to the mic after his quick defeat over Joe Smith Jr, the reserved champion stated a preference in opponent:
“I have two unification fights. Unification fights are more interesting, more motivating,” Beterbiev said. “I prefer unification fight. I want to be undisputed.”
This humble callout of WBA champion Dmitry Bivol shows how ambitious Beterbiev is, and at 37 years old, now is the best time to strike. Both Bivol and Beterbiev are highly technical but in different ways. The key to Beterbiev’s 100% finish rate is not just his monstrous power, but his impeccable shot selection. The man poses the ability to not only overwhelm his opponents with unrelenting power but is also able to open up their defense with his educated combinations and over-the-guard punching, leading to his jaw-dropping finish rate. This clash of styles would make for an intriguing bout between the division’s top fighters. With Alvarez not looking to activate his rematch clause with Bivol and wanting to pursue the trilogy with Gennady Golovkin, this may open negotiations between Beterbiev and Bivol.