What is Artur Beterbiev's legacy?
The three-belt light heavyweight champion, who currently holds the WBC, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight titles has seen inactivity slow down one of the most exciting careers.
Despite the light heavyweight division being fairly thin. Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol are rated by a lot of pundits as top-ten fighters amongst all the weight classes - meaning if we can get that fight it is an impactful, and meaningful bout.
Beterbiev's bout with Callum Smith was an interesting one as well based on the test it served at this point in his career. That test being - does he still have it?
Let's break down what Beterbiev's career is currently.
By The Numbers
Beterbiev holds an impressive record of nineteen wins with zero losses, with all of his wins coming by way of knockout. This includes an even more impressive record of seven straight knockouts in world championship bouts and four wins over former or current world champions.
Beterbiev has seven defenses of the IBF light heavyweight world title, four defenses of the WBC light heavyweight title, and one defense of the WBO light heavyweight world title. Beterbiev won the IBF light heavyweight in November of 2017 and has held a form of the light heavyweight title over the past five-and-a-half-years.
In his 19 professional fights, Beterbiev has gone 91 rounds.
When looking at Beterbiev's career the way he was moved will always be brought up.
Beterbiev knocked out former world champion Tavoris Cloud in just his sixth professional fight. It appeared his career would be extremely exciting and that Beterbiev would be moved quickly.
Yet, sadly, despite being exciting, Beterbiev wasn't all that active. It appeared that Beterbiev bounced between networks prior to finding a home with Top Rank Inc., in 2017. Beterbiev was featured on a Premier Boxing Champions telecast when he knocked out Gabriel Campillo - and had a cup of coffee on a DAZN telecast with Matchroom as well.
Beterbiev's crowning achievement stopping Oleksandr Gvozdyk - happened five or so months before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. During that time, the man from Khasavyurt, Russia, who relocated to Montreal, Canada, seemed to become an afterthought not unlike his peer, Dmitry Bivol, who also had trouble getting fights during the pandemic.
In 2017 and 2018, Beterbiev fought only once for the whole year, whereas Beterbiev picked up his pace by fighting twice in 2019. This marquee was stalled as the pandemic saw Beterbiev out of the ring for all of 2020, and despite fighting twice in 2021, he was out of sight and out of mind.
Now, we are back to square one. 2022 saw Beterbiev fight once, and stop Joe Smith Jr. In 2023, Beterbiev fought back from early adversity to stop Anthony Yarde, with the recent postponement of his fight with Callum Smith that now will happen in January 2024, we have to wonder...has inactivity stalled the hall-of-fame career of Beterbiev?
It is now starting to look like the activity will be part of the legacy of Beterbiev.
Beterbiev is old for a fighter. Beterbiev is 38-years-old.
That is an age where very few continue to fight at this level.
It isn't a matter of if, but when he begins to show signs of decline. One could argue that the decline started in his last fight when he lost a round or two to Anthony Yarde, a good, but not great fighter.
Fighting once-a-year, at nearly 40-years-old, Beterbiev is doing himself no favors, nor is he making it easy for himself to elongate his career.
What Is Next?
Hopefully, we have two fights in store for Beterbiev. The already scheduled January 13th bout against Callum Smith is one that now needs to happen, and then the Dmitry Bivol fight for who was the best light heavyweight of the modern era. Yet, Beterbiev goes at a slow pace. This seems like it could happen in nine months or two-and-a-half years at this point with no rhyme or reason as to why.
With ProBox TV News learning this week from Top Rank Inc.CEO, Bob Arum, that Beterbiev will be out for six-to-eight weeks before beginning a training camp that places the start of his preparation for the Smith fight at roughly the beginning of October.
Beterbiev's legacy is undefined. A historically great light heavyweight, who needs a few more 'big wins', but honestly needs to be seen more to impact the sport the way he should.