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Artur Beterbiev defeats Enrico Koelling

Image: Artur Beterbiev defeats Enrico Koelling

By Jeff Aranow: Undefeated #2 IBF Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) was less than stellar in knocking out #3 IBF Enrico Koelling (23-2, 6 KOs) in the 12th round to win the vacant IBF light heavyweight title on Saturday night at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California.

Beterbiev, 32, dropped Koelling twice in the 12th round. The referee Lou Moret halted the fight after the second knockdown. The official time of the stoppage was at 2:33 of round 12.

Tonight’s Beterbiev vs. Koelling fight was televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The ESPN commentators were bickering most of the night, talking about Beterbiev performances.

It was an incredibly dull fight until round 11, when Beterbiev hurt Koelling with a big right hand to the head. The shot snapped Koelling’s head back, and he instinctively grabbed Beterbiev in a clinch. When the two fighters were separated, Koelling moved away from Beterbiev, and he was able to make it out of the round.

It looked like Beterbiev didn’t want to want to finish Koelling off. That’s the way it appeared. Koelling looked so fragile at that point. Beterbiev could have knocked him out with a glancing blow. But instead of looking to KO Koelling, Beterbiev threw some weak jabs and a couple of body shots. It didn’t make sense what Beterbiev was doing, but it appeared that he didn’t want to finish him off.

Things changed in the 12th round, as Koelling landed a hard right hand that got the attention of Beterbiev. That punch woke Beterbiev up, and brought his killer instinct out in him. From that point on, Beterbiev was nailing Koelling with huge shots with power and aggression that he’d not shown during the fight. it looked like a completely different Beterbiev. The punches were coming one after another with brutal power. This was the Beterbiev that the boxing world had all come to know before the fight.

The boxing fans at ringside booed the slow action in many of the rounds, as they wanted to see brawling and sustained combinations from the 2 fighters. Beterbiev looked very slow of hand and foot, and he wasn’t capable of throwing sustained combinations. Beterbiev wasn’t going to put his chin on the line by throwing a flurry of punches in the early. For his part, Koelling was fighting in defensive shell for most of the fight, taking very few chances.

The win for Beterbiev gives him the IBF 175 lb. title that was previously in the hands of Andre “SOG” Ward. You have to wonder what’s going through the mind of Ward right now. He might think that he gave up his IBF title a little too soon. Beterbiev wasn’t impressive until the 12th round. Perhaps Ward saw the performance and thinks he can come back and defeat Beterbiev to gain back his IBF title? I doubt that Ward will come back, but you never know.

Beterbiev would be a much different animal against Ward compared to the way he was against Koelling. Beterbiev wasn’t displaying the huge power that we’d seen from him in his 11 previous fights as a pro. It wasn’t until the 12th round that Beterbeiv opened up with his punches in throwing them with full force. Ward would have a hard time taking the kinds of shots that Beterbiev was hitting Koelling with in the 12th. Beterbiev hits too hard when he’s in that mode of his game.

With the win, Beterbiev will now be available to take on the bigger names in boxing. One fighter that could be in Beterbiev’s target zone for the near future is Oleksandr Gvozdyk, who was in the audience to watch him perform. Gvzodyk is ranked No.4 with the International Boxing Federation, so he should be a potential opponent for Beterbiev very soon, possibly in his next fight. Beterbiev isn’t the type to milk his title.

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