Artur Beterbiev is a terrific fighter. THere can be no doubt about that. He represented his native Russia in the Olympics in 2008 and 2012. As a professional, he has knocked out all 12 opponents that he has faced.
Saturday night in Fresno he dominated Enrico Koelling en route to a Round 12 KO. It was one more impressive performance by an impressive fighter.
But the IBF wants you to believe that this win makes Beterbiev a “world champion.” Don’t believe it. It’s just one more example of alphabet-soup shenanigans.
The IBF title became vacant when Andre Ward retired earlier this year. I have no problem with Beterbiev as one of the fighter brought in to contend for that belt. Even if he did have less than a dozen fights, he has mowed down a collection of credible contenders.
But how the hell did Koelling rank a spot in this bout? I would never call the German a bum. But he sure isn’t a legitimate world-title challenger, either. His resume coming into this fight with Beterbiev was utterly without distinction.
I am not even going to venture an opinion about Koelling’s most impressive win. His previous two fights before Beterbiev were a split decision and very close unanimous decision over 18-5 Ryno Liebenberg, who is really a super middleweight. In 2015, Koelling lost handily to 13-2 Mirco Ricci.
This kind of stupidity is why fans struggle to take boxing seriously.
Beterbiev should be in the conversation for any major fights at light heavyweight, in a post-Ward world. I would love to see him matched up with fellow Russian Sergey Kovalev. Fellow Olympian Oleksandr Gvozdyk of the Ukraine is another great potential fight for him.
But my real hope is that Beterbiev will get a shot at fellow Quebec resident Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson holds the lineal title at light heavyweight, but has mostly avoided truly elite contenders. Beterbiev would be a true challenge for him.