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Artur Beterbiev: “I don’t care about judges”

Artur Beterbiev

By Kenneth Friedman: IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) made sure that the judges had no say in the final results of his fight last Friday night in stopping WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in the 10th round at the Liacouras Center, in Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

In learning after the fight that 2 of the judges had Gvozdyk ahead after 9 rounds, Beterbiev smiled and said, “I do not care about the judges.”

Two of the judges had Gvozdyk up 87-83 and 86-85 through nine rounds. The third judge saw it for Beterbiev at 87-83. Beterbiev made sure that he wasn’t on the receiving end of a questionable decision by knocking Gvozdyk down three times in the 10th to force a stoppage.

Beterbiev knew Gvozdyk was tiring late in the fight

“I’m not surprised by him. I’m surprised about me because I’m not good like I want to be,” said Beterbiev after the fight. “I tried to do instruction as my coach told me, but I can’t do like all the instructions. And I tried to box, and I didn’t try for the knockout. I did half my potential. I believe that. Yes, I saw that. You’re getting tired? I’m not getting tired,” said Beterbiev when asked if he could tell that Gvozdyk was tiring late in the fight. “One knockdown, two knockdowns, and three knockdowns.

It’s interesting that Beterbiev wasn’t pleased with his performance, because the boxing fans liked what they saw of him. The main flaw in Beterbiev’s performance was him being a little too patient before going for the knockout. Beterbiev waited until the 9th round before he started to attack Gvozdyk in an all-out manner, and he made the fight tougher than it should have been.

Had Beterbiev gone after Gvozdyk early in the fight with his powerful body shots, there’s a good chance he would wear him down and stopped him. Gvozydk showed no ability to take the body shots that was hitting him with. There was a big difference between the way Beterbiev fought in rounds 9 and 10 compared to in the first 8 rounds.

He showed Gvozdyk too much respect in those rounds, and that allowed him to build a lead in two of the judges’ scorecards. Beterbiev can’t afford to fight like that against the likes of light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol or Sergey Kovalev, because they might be able to go the full 12 round distance to beat him on the scorecards.

“I don’t care about judges,” says Beterbiev

“The rules are different with the IBF and WBC. I don’t have time to learn the rules. I just continue, continue and continue. When need, the referee stops it. The fight, I’m not happy with me,” said Beterbiev when told that 2 of the judges had Gvozdyk winning going into round 10. “I’m not surprised what Gvozdyk did. I’m surprised at what I didn’t do.

“No, I do not care [that two judges had Gvozdyk ahead]. I do not care about the judges. Long term, I try to continue. A unification or mandatory, it doesn’t matter. I just continue, because I had a long period of a year where I didn’t fight. It’s good for me to stay active,” said Beterbiev.

Beterbiev wanted to do a better job of following his trainer’s instructions in throwing certain punches. What Beterbiev didn’t realize was how good of a boxer Gvozdyk turned out to be. He fought a smart fight and did well with his combination punching. Beterbiev was caught with big shots on a frequent basis when he could come forward looking to land his punches. When Beterbiev got in close, he found success with his shot punches on the inside. However, Beterbiev allowed Gvozdyk to clinch him, and he didn’t make all the time by fighting through the clinch.

Good inside fighters continue to throw punches even while their opponents are trying to negate their offense by holding them. Beterbiev made the mistake of letting Gvozdyk hold him without continuing to belt him with shots. Sometimes Beterbiev would continue to throw shots while Gvozdyk held him, but not all the time.

Kellerman says Beterbiev doesn’t get credit for his ring IQ

“I thought that’s more or less the fight that we would get,” said Kellerman to Fighthype about Beterbiev’s stoppage win over Gvozdyk. “Beterbiev used to be the guy that everyone used to say, ‘watch it. Kovalev is such a bad dude, but wait until Beterbiev gets here.’ He [Beterbiev] was a really celebrated fighter as an amateur, and he doesn’t get a lot of credit for his ring IQ.

“Just because he’s coming forward, and he’s a power puncher, he doesn’t get credit for his ring IQ. The fact is he knows the distance. And he knows how to take the steam off the other guy’s shots by staying out at the distance. And by punching when the other guy doesn’t want to punch, and waiting until the end of the combination to come in.

“People say, ‘ring generalship and body language and stuff, but that’s really what they’re talking about. Great pressure fighters like Rocky Marciano, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., of course, knew how to do that. So they say, ‘He’s just an animal. He’ll break you down.’ But it requires a certain ring IQ that Beterbiev has. So he’s the type of guy where the other guy clinches, and it feels like the other guy comes out bruised. He’s just rugged and was the better fighter tonight clearly. I thought Gvozdyk was winning some of the early rounds, but you could see what was happening. The avalanche was coming, and then it came,” said Kellerman.

The technical ability that Beterbiev showed against Gvozdyk was amazing. Fighters can learn a lot from being around a guy like Beterbiev. Canelo would improve greatly in fighting Beterbiev because he learns from each fight and he’s able to take on the things that he’s learned.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk quit in his corner says, Kellerman

“Gvozdyk quit. He quit in the corner,” said Kellerman about his belief that Gvozdyk mentally quit after the 9th round. “I had him down by three points. After four rounds, I had him up 3-1, and then I didn’t give him another round, but I could see where a judge might. He was landing some shots.

“Sometimes, and Teddy talks about this. Guys don’t know how close they are to victory, right? Like Victor Ortiz and Marcos Maidana. Yeah, you were hurt, but so was he. I think that’s what Teddy was trying to impress on Gvozdyk. ‘I know you feel that victory is a long way off, but you may be closer than you think. Keep fighting,’ but Gvozdyk was done. He didn’t want it,” said Kellerman.

It wasn’t a case of Gvozdyk mentally quitting in his corner after round 9. When he came out for the 10th, he looked worn out from the punishment to the body that Beterbiev had done in the previous round. Beterbiev continued with the body shots in the 10th, and Gvozdyk had had enough. The difference in this round was Beterbiev didn’t allow Gvozdyk to tie him up with clinches without him continuing to throw punches. That resulted in Beterbiev hitting Gvozdyk with some shots to the back of his head because he was being held while throwing his shots. It was difficult for Beterbiev to throw his shots to the front of Gvozdyk’s head while being held.

Roughly three-quarters of the time, Gvozdyk got away with tying Beterbiev up with a clinch to stop him from throwing his shots. The referee would then pull them apart and reset them on the outside. This favored the taller fighter Gvozdyk.

Kellerman wants to see Beterbiev fight Bivol

“I’d like to see him fight Bivol,” said Kellerman when asked who Beterbiev should fight next. “I think Kovalev and Gvozdyk can fight at a certain level, but when you see the organization of their skills, Bivol is a more organized fighter, and guys like that have more resources to go to when the going gets tough.

“So something about Bivol tells me he’s not a front-runner. His fighting style is the classic pressure fighter vs. a boxer. Bivol is a smaller guy. He’s really a 168-pounder type. I think that’s the best match-up. Going in, who do you pick in that fight? To me, that’s the best match-up at 175, but let’s see how Canelo looks against Kovalev,” said Kellerman.

Beterbiev’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing is interested in matching him against WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol in 2020. But in Beterbiev’s next fight, he needs to defend against his IBF mandatory Meng Fanlong. The IBF isn’t going to let Beterbiev not defend against their designated mandatory. Meng, 31, isn’t much of a threat to Beterbiev. That should be a considerably easier fight for Beterbiev than the Gvozdyk match-up.

Once Beterbiev gets Fanlong out of the way, then a unification fight against Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs) is a possibility. Arum is also interested in matching Beterbiev against the winner of the Sergey Kovalev vs. Saul Canelo Alvarez fight on November 2. If Canelo wins, Arum says he doesn’t think he’ll take the fight with Beterbiev.

Fighting some of the 168-lb champions could be an option for Beterbiev

If Beterbiev was lighter, he could possibly move down to 168 to expand his options by facing WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez, Callum Smith, Caleb Plant or Billy Joe Saunders. Losing weight to fight at 168 might prove to be too difficult for Beterbiev. Those champions likely wouldn’t be interested in moving up one weight class to face a puncher like Beterbiev.

Canelo Alvarez is showing a lot of courage in moving up two weight classes to face WBO light heavyweight champion Kovalev. But asking the super middleweight champions to move up one weight class to fight Beterbiev could prove difficult. Callum and Benavidez have the size and punching power to pull it off, but whether they would be willing to fight a guy with Beterbiev’s power is doubtful.

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