BOXING in his homeland for the first time as a professional fighter, Artur Beterbiev retained his WBC and IBF light-heavyweight titles halting Germany’s Adam Deines at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow on Saturday (March 20).

Deines landed his southpaw left on Beterbiev only for the ferocious Russian to sweep a right hook back, a glancing blow that was still enough to drop the German in the first round.

But Deines rallied, coming back at Beterbiev to pop through punches of his own. The champion ground forward, walking his challenger down, doubling that right and slamming it in as a dangerous hook. Deines tried to return fire but he couldn’t manage to push Beterbiev back. The Russian’s power was grinding him down, but it still took Beterbiev until the 10th round to finish the fight.

Deines was in the midst of landing a couple of shots of his own, only for Beterbiev to slam a short left into Deines’ jaw and leave him listing over, down to the canvas. He was badly hurt and pulled out of the contest.

The stoppage win takes Beterbiev to a perfect 16-0 (16) record but the bout also allowed him to shake off some ring rust, this being Beterbiev’s first bout since October 2019, when he beat Gvozdyk to unify the WBC and IBF belts.

But thanks to these rounds the Russian is now well placed to go for further opportunities to unify titles. Maxim Vlasov and Joe Smith Jnr will fight next month for the vacant WBO belt, while Dmitry Bivol will make a WBA title defence against Craig Richards on May 1. The winner of either of those bouts must look to the division leader. That remains Artur Beterbiev.