ALTHOUGH it emerged that Artur Beterbiev was down on the cards against Oleksandr Gvozdyk, I can’t say there was any time during the fight that I felt Artur was in real danger of losing.
Early on, there were adjustments that Beterbiev absolutely needed to make to deal Gvodsyk’s slickness but I know one thing – being in the ring with Artur for 12 consecutive rounds is a real serious mountain to climb. It was only a matter of time before Gvozdyk realised that.
One of Beterbiev’s biggest strengths is his ability to shut down the distance. The way he moves his feet, the single shots he throws are all designed to suffocate his opponent. As many of his sparring partners have described to me, “He just makes the ring so small. Everywhere you go, he’s right there with you.” It’s akin to someone throwing a tennis ball up against a brick wall. That ball is going to wear out well before the wall ever will.
We expect him to go a long way. At this point, I would say undisputed superiority at 175lbs is right there for him to take. His power, aggression, mentality, strength and conditioning and his underrated boxing ability, I believe, make him the most difficult guy to deal with in the world at light-heavyweight. He’s dangerous early and he’s dangerous late, as people around the world are coming to find out.
People have asked if there are any plans to move up in weight. I think right now that Artur makes 175 without difficulty and his immediate goal is to dominate that division. Speaking personally, I don’t see a move to cruiserweight anytime soon but if he were to go that route, I’m sure his power would be felt by those guys as well.
Artur doesn’t show much emotion. In fact, when he celebrated the weekend’s victory, it was the most animated I’ve ever seen him. When a fight is close, Artur is as advertised: serious and all business. But early on in training camp, and in everyday life, he is a humorous guy, really, around the immediate team.
He’s humble but with the guys in the gym he’ll crack a joke or laugh at one of ours just like anyone else. One thing I find humorous about him is that he’s only about boxing when he’s in the gym but, once he’s done training, he prefers to go home and be with the family.
His head trainer Marc Ramsay and I are big fans, and, like a lot of boxing people, we will stay on at the gym every day talking about fighters and upcoming fights. Sometimes, when Artur approaches us and hears that we are in a boxing discussion he will walk by and laugh and say, “Bye, I go home. No more boxing for today.”
It’s only natural for me, a former fighter who challenged for a light-heavyweight world title, to look at Artur and consider what it would have been like to fight him. But I watch him a little bit more and I realise something: If I was ever in a position to fight Beterbiev at light-heavy, I would move straight back down to super-middleweight where I should have stayed in the first place.