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Inside Team Beterbiev: “He is strong, mean, calculating… and kind”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 18: Artur Beterbiev punches Joe Smith Jr during the light heavyweight title bout at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
I’ve fought, sparred and trained some top light-heavyweights. None compare to Artur, says John 'The Iceman' Scully

I WOULD say Artur Beterbiev is the strongest, hardest-punching and meanest light-heavyweight that I’ve ever seen, either from across the ring or from ringside. In terms of heavy-handedness I don’t think anyone compares to him. In terms of desire to get you out of there and finish you, no matter the cost, he’s definitely that guy. He isn’t known to have the overall elusive boxing skills of a Roy Jones or the patience of a Henry Maske but they didn’t possess what he does, either.

When it is time to work and be serious Artur is the most serious man on Earth. He’s all about focus and preparation. He’s as driven any athlete as could possibly be. He’s a guy who could be left alone for a month, with no trainer or supervision, and at the end of the 30 days he will be in even better condition that he was before he was left alone. 

But the beautiful thing about him is that, contrary to what many fans out there perceive him to be, he actually has a very good sense of humour and laughs easily with the team in the gym when the time is right. He is kind, too. I remember one training camp during a brutal winter in Montreal I came to the gym with just a lightweight jacket on. Artur asked me if I was cold and I told him I was okay – even though I wasn’t. The very next day he showed up at the gym with his Russian national amateur boxing team winter coat and he handed it to me. When camp was over I tried to give it back to him because it is a very important piece of memorabilia from his amateur career but he insisted I should keep it because it’s still cold out and that I’ll need it. That’s the Artur Beterbiev that I know.  

Inside the ring, he is getting better. Artur is the only boxer I can think of who has noticeably improved as a champion in his mid-thirties. Thanks to his head trainer Marc Ramsay, Artur has shown better boxing skills in his last few fights. His punch selection and delivery are way better than they were just a few years ago. 

It’s also very clear to me through hard work and practice that both his jab and body shots have improved tremendously since he became world champion.

Being with him in the gym is truly a pleasure and I say that for several reasons. First is that he is absolutely the hardest worker you can ever hope to find. You will never see him give less than 100 per cent unless you actually ask him to slow down a bit. It’s also an interesting dynamic because with most fighters you can tell them or teach them something and that’s it, they just do it. But Artur wants to know why things need to be done and what the reasoning behind them are. He wants you to explain all aspects of it to him, he keeps you on your game as a coach.

I remember one time I showed him a particular manoeuvre he could use to gain more leverage on his body shots and later that day, after the gym was closed, he was in a corner, alone, for 20 or so minutes practising the move. Going slowly though the motions, trying to perfect the execution of them. He wasn’t going to leave the gym until he felt he had the execution down.

He can and will beat Dmitry Bivol. With all due respect to Canelo Alvarez, at light-heavyweight, Artur is simply a much bigger, stronger and more relentless man nd absolutely brings completely different issues for Bivol. You won’t see Bivol backing Artur up and overpowering him against the ropes as he was able to do with a smaller Canelo.

People who think they have seen focus, determination and power from Artur are in for something much, much more when he gets in with Dmitry Bivol for the light- heavyweight championship of the world. I believe Artur feels like his whole career legacy in boxing will come down to winning that one fight. 

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