The Khabib of boxing - Artur Beterbiev, the most dangerous man in the sport (VIDEO)
Typically modest, Beterbiev himself isn't too sure about the moniker and instead prefers to honor, but here are some facts about the two-time world champion with a 100% KO record that cannot be denied, and certain parallels that can be drawnf rom his scintillating fighting style.
Bearded bruiser Beterbiev was born in the same Republic of Dagestan as UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Russia’s North Caucasus region famous for producing a high quantity of high quality fighters, and parallels have been drawn between ‘The Eagle’ and Beterbiev owing to their raw power and no-nonsense approach to fighting.
RT Sport caught up with Beterbiev as he landed in Moscow for the first time since that fight to talk titles, Khabib, being 'the most dangeorus man in boxing' and punching harder than WBC heavyweight king Deontay Wilder.
In his undefeated path to becoming a two-time champion, Beterbiev has racked up 15 wins from 15 fights, each coming by way of knockout. The most recent of those came when he unified two 175lbs titles via a 10th-round knockout over Ukrainian WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk in Philadelphia, adding to his bright red IBF belt.
The similarities between Beterbiev and the 28-0 UFC darling extend far beyond nationality and occupation: both are legitimate, unified champions boasting unblemished professional records in their respective disciplines and currently hold the number one spot in their corresponding weight categories.
Most notably of all - both have captivated audiences with their almost alarming indifference to violence. Despite being outwardly easygoing and jovial when outside of the combat arena, both Beterbiev and Khabib posses fight-time personas that elicit fear and intrigue from opponents and spectators in equal measure.
Now based in Montreal, Canada, and of Chechen heritage, the 34-year-old Beterbiev has fallen into a friendship with local mixed martial arts all-time great Georges St. Pierre, whom he considers a “mentor”.
The experience of the former welterweight and middleweight UFC champion has undoubtedly aided Beterbiev’s transition from former Olympian and world amateur champion to negotiating the professional world rankings and now in North America. So far, that has involved delivering world titles with bludgeoning knockouts.
Beterbiev's partnership with GSP also brings another link to Khabib; the former UFC star is a hero of the UFC 155lbs supremo, and the two have repeatedly expressed their desire to meet one day in the octagon, which forms the main motivation for a mooted St. Pierre comeback.
As for Beterbiev, his next step is to become undisputed champion after his win over Gvozdyk catapulted him to the pinnacle of his weight class. To do that, it will mean meeting either compatriot and WBA title holder Dmitry Bivol or the winner of a fight between another Russian Sergey Kovalev’s fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez for the WBO title.
Those three Russians own all four organization belts and have been revered for their inhuman punching power. To varying degrees each have also, as common in Western press, suffered to under-exposure and have more often been portrayed as hell-raising anti-heroes.
Despite the lack of sufficient coverage perhaps depriving Beterbiev of the required platform to showcase his skills, the 34-year-old has, however unwittingly, emerged as a star of the sport. His win over Gvozdyk saw the mallet-fisted Beterbiev claim the Ring magazine belt and earn a top 10 ranking in the ‘Bible of Boxing’ pound for pound rankings.
It was Bivol who labeled his contemporary the most dangerous man anyone in the sport. Such a statement carries extra weight when said by someone who not only has first hand experience of elite boxing, but someone regarded in the same vein.
As for Kovalev, Beterbiev already holds two wins over the three-time world champ, who is considered a little on the downside after his last fight, trudging to a stoppage win over Brit Anthony Yarde in August and, should he overcome Canelo, the 36-year-old would perhaps be easy pickings for Beterbiev.
Should Canelo come through, he would likely vacate and move back down to middleweight, making that WBO title vacant and up for grabs, meaning the only logical fight would be for Bivol and Beterbiev to fight to establish a unified champion.
In any case, the purported most dangerous man in the sport could potentially come one of its most famous, having already amassed a following in just 15 fights. Whatever the future may hold for boxing, Artur Beterbiev holds an extremely bright future, albeit as a dark force, in his hammer-like hands.