Beterbiev vs Johnson: Artur Beterbiev has 100 per cent KO record
Beterbiev vs Johnson is part of the Worlds Collide bill, 2am, Sunday morning, live on Sky Sports action
By Tim Hobbs
Last Updated: 04/10/18 12:41pm
Artur Beterbiev defends his IBF light-heavyweight title for the first time in the early hours of Sunday, against Callum Johnson, live on Sky Sports. He is a decorated amatuer and one of Russia's rising stars, but not everyone knows who he is...
What are the basics?
He is 33, was born in January 1985, in the small city of Khasavyurt, in the Dagestan Republic, south west of Russia. He is a muslim of Chechnyan descent. He is the youngest of four siblings and is married with three children. He moved to Canada when he turned professional and is now based in Montreal.
There can't be many champions in Montreal?
Well, indeed, there is only the one and only 'Superman', Adonis Stevenson, who has held the WBC light-heavyweight title for years.
What chance of Beterbiev fighting him, if he wins?
There might be, Stevenson is not known for travelling out of Canada. But he is supposed to be defending against Ukraine's latest sensation Oleksandr Gvozdyk, an explosive light-heavyweight.
Another one? Who are the rest?
Dmitry Bivol is the WBA champion and, much like Bertebiev, didn't take long to reach the top - 12 fights in fact. It's harsh not to mention Sergey Kovalev, too. He was the one to push for the unification fight with Andre Ward, with three of the four belts his own, only to lose both. Kovalev won the WBO title back but in one of the shocks of the year, was knocked out by Eleider Alvarez in August.
Kovalev used to be Russia's No 1?
Maybe, but there is a new breed coming through. Beterbiev had already beaten 'Krusher' in the amateurs. Beterbiev's amateur career is up there with the very best. He won the 2006 European Championships, seeing off Kovalev on the way to securing a slot in the 2007 World's, where he had to settle for a silver. He went one better in 2009 and scored gold in Milan. Beterbiev was on the way to a hat-trick in 2011, only for the one and only Oleksandr Usyk to get in his way.
So he beat Kovalev but couldn't get past Usyk?
Not once, but twice. The first was a 13-17 defeat to deny him a third World Championships medal, the second was under the spotlight at the London 2012 Olympics. Beterbiev edged past rated American Michael Hunter in the Round of 16, but his nemesis Usyk came next, with the same outcome, a 13-17 defeat. Usyk went all the way to gold, Beterbiev was a professional within a year.
What has been going on since he turned pro?
By then, he and his wife and three children were off to Montreal, Canada to set up home and start a new chapter. His debut was at the Bell Centre, Quebec, on the undercard of Stevenson's defence against former world champion Chad Dawson.
One big issue is Beterbiev has hardly been active of late. His promotional fall-outs have got in the way a bit of his potential rise to the top. In fact, his first defence comes almost a year since he won the world title. He has only fought three times in two-and-a-half years.
I have good news. I received a fight agreement today and just signed it. I look forward to defend #IBF title against Callum Johnson on 6 October in USA. У меня хорошие новости, сегодня я получил контракт на бой и подписал его. Мой следующий бой - защита … https://t.co/6pgjhLlAea pic.twitter.com/C47CSoC2uz— Artur Beterbiev (@ABeterbiev) June 29, 2018
Has he boxed any former champions?
Yes, former IBF king Tavoris Cloud. It was Beterbiev's sixth fight and 'Thunder' was KO'd in two. It was his announcement into the 175lbs elite and followed it up with an even quicker finish against then-unbeaten Jeff Page Jr.
Have all his wins come so early?
Yes, 12 fights have stretched to 42 rounds between them. The stats never lie, and Beterbiev will walk in with a perfect 100 per cent knockout ratio, with 12 out of 12. Even Usyk couldn't manage that and while they both completed their own deadly dozen, Anthony Joshua (94 per cent) and Deontay Wilder (98 per cent) are no longer perfect. Beterbiev nearly went 12 rounds in November against Enrico Koelling. He was 27 seconds away from the bell when it was waved off after the German had been down twice.
What was on the line?
It was for the IBF light-heavyweight title, that was left vacant by Andre Ward's retirement a few weeks earlier. It was back in Russian hands, having belonged to Kovalev for a long reign.
Who else has held this belt then?
It is a roll of honour, even in a division that has arguably seen more unified champions than most over the past few decades. Germany's Henry Maske was the inaugural holder between 1995 and 1996, then Roy Jones Jr took over and never actually lost the IBF strap, relinquishing it before Antonio Tarver ruled the world. Glen Johnson, Tavoris Cloud, Bernard Hopkins, Kovalev and none other than Sheffield's Clinton Woods all enjoying a decent spell in charge of the IBF.
A British champion at this weight. What chance another one?
Well, Johnson has nothing to lose. He is the massive underdog at 9/2 with SkyBet, who have champion Beterbiev 1/8 on.
How can you watch it?
Watch the action from Chicago with Jessie Vargas vs Thomas Dulorme, Artur Beterbiev vs Callum Johnson, Daniel Roman vs Gavin McDonnell and Jarrell Miller vs Tomasz Adamek, 2am, Sunday, Sky Sports Action or follow it on our live blog at skysports.com/boxing or on the Sky Sports App.