By Huck Allen: Artur Beterbiev had to deal with a massive cut on Friday night to eventually wear down and stop Marcus Browne in the ninth round to retain his IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.
Things looked bleak for Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) after he suffered a three-inch-long gash on his forehead in round four after colliding heads with #1 WBC challenger Browne (24-2, 16 KOs).
Beterbiev, 36, was already trailing on the scorecards after giving away the first three rounds. When the cut occurred in the fourth, it looked like curtains for the two-time Russian Olympian.
Beterbiev’s cut energized him
You have to look at the cut that Beterbiev sustained in the fourth round as the catalyst that allowed him to wake-up, and fight with the same fire that he needed to win the fight.
Before Beterbiev was cut, he was fighting passively and not going all out in the way he needed to defeat Browne.
Going into the contest, Browne had lost to Jean Pascal and arguably should have been beaten by Radivoje Kalajdzic. Those two fighters got the better of Browne by blitzing him and fighting in a way that didn’t give him a chance to rest or collect himself.
Once Beterbiev started fighting the way those guys had against Browne, he took over the fight and never looked back.
It’s too bad for Beterbiev that he suffered such a bad cut because that might effectively rule out any chance of him fighting Canelo Alvarez next May.
Beterbiev showed heart
Showing tremendous mental fortitude, Beterbiev reached down and fought his heart out, ignoring the blood and fighting as hard as he could to ensure he scored a knockout to prevent the ringside doctor pulled the plug on the fight due to his severe cut.
Beterbiev kept pressing Browne, 31, hard and scored a pair of knockdowns from left-hand body shots in rounds seven and nine. The 2012 U.S Olympian Browne was too hurt from the left to the body that Beterbiev dropped him in the ninth round to continue fighting.
“We win this fight, this is another experience in my career,” said Beterbiev after the contest. “This is boxing. You never know what happens in boxing. I’m happy to get the win. I have two world titles. I am open to fighting the other champions in my division.
“And I am happy I had the opportunity to give the great fans of Montreal a memorable championship fight.”
The beginning of the end for Browne came in the last minute of the fifth round which saw Beterbiev trap him against the ropes, giving him a real shellacking.
Beterbiev dished out so much punishment in the fifth that it was almost a 10-8 round, even though Browne didn’t go down. Still, Browne took enormous punishment to the head and body in the fifth and was lucky that the fight didn’t get stopped because he was getting nailed.
Browne taking punishment
Beterbiev continued to batter Browne with heavy shots in the sixth, and it was clear that the New Yorker was going to need to do something otherwise he was going to get knocked out.
After Beterbiev dropped Browne with a left-hand body shot in the seventh, the New Yorker came back in the eighth in a break-out round, showing that he still had something left in the tank despite the punishment he’d absorbed in rounds five through seven.
Going into the ninth, Beterbiev seemed to realize that had to double his efforts to keep Browne from getting back in the fight. As a result, Beterbiev came out of the blocks on fire in the beginning of the ninth round and landed some monstrous shots that Browne clearly didn’t like.
In watching the first three rounds, it’s difficult to believe that the fight would end the way it did because Browne was fighting like a champion through the first three rounds.
Using his jab and movement, Browne had Beterbiev tied in knots mentally and unable to get to him to land his shorter power punches. The first three rounds were clearly won by the 31-year-old Browne, and if he had been able to continue fighting the way he did, he would have won for sure.