Artur Beterbiev vs Enrico Koelling: Prelude to an Execution

  • By Behind The Gloves
  • 10 Nov, 2017

This Saturday, highly-ranked Light Heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev squares off with little-known Enrico Koelling for the IBF light heavyweight title vacated by the recently-retired Andre Ward. Beterbiev has been on the cusp of a world title shot for some time and was touted as a potential challenger to Ward and the then WBA (Super), IBF and WBO champion Sergey Kovalev. He now has the opportunity to fulfil his ambition of becoming a world champion, albeit against a far less illustrious foe.  

Artur Beterbiev, an ethnic Chechen born in Dagestan, Russia, enjoyed a highly-decorated amateur career during which he won two European Championship gold medals, a World Championship gold medal and fought at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. He turned professional in 2013 with the expectation that he would be moved along quickly in part due to his extensive amateur background but also due to his advanced (in boxing terms) age of twenty eight years. So it proved to be when in 2014, with just five professional bouts to his name, he faced former beltholder Tavoris Cloud who was coming off a loss in a title fight against Adonis Stevenson. Cloud was outclassed on that occasion but showcased abnormal toughness by never being taken off his feet despite being hit with everything but the kitchen sink by the Haitian Canadian knockout artist before his corner had seen enough and pulled the plug after the seventh round. Beterbiev blitzed Cloud, knocking him down three times in the first round and finally for the full count in the second. It was a major statement and immediately put the rest of the light heavyweight division on notice.

Enrico Koelling represented his native Germany as an amateur, though not enjoying success anywhere remotely close to Beterbiev’s achievements in the unpaid ranks. A professional since 2012, the only recognisable name on his resume is one-time fringe contender Ryno Liebenberg who was coming off three losses in his previous four fights when they fought for the first time. Koelling won an undeserved split decision on home turf in the first and unanimously in a less competitive second fight. It was however good enough for the IBF to elevate him to number 3 in their rankings at light heavyweight, behind Beterbiev. As recently as 2015, Koelling was outpointed by 13-2-0 Marco Ricci. He only has six knockouts from twenty three wins against less-than-stellar opposition, so power is clearly not a part of his game. In Beterbiev, he will be facing one of the biggest pound-for-pound punchers in boxing today. The man from Dagestan has knocked out every opponent he has faced as a professional - many of whom, like Cloud, entered the contest with a reputation for durability or having never been stopped – in frightening fashion. Paraguayan hard man Isidro Ranoni Prieto had gone twelve competitive rounds with the WBC’s number one ranked contender Eleider Alvarez. Beterbiev put him down twice, rattled him with every meaningful punch landed and left him looking like the victim of a mugging, all in the space of one round. Beterbiev’s power is such that even his short-range cuffing punches, the type usually thrown in clinches, can discombobulate an opponent. The Caucasus seems to be a breeding ground for world class grapplers, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that Beterbiev has unbelievable strength on the inside. He is economical with his punches and wastes little, stalking his opponents with patience and poise. 

The one glaring defect in Beterbiev’s skill-set is his defence, in particular a lack of head and upper body movement. Beterbiev’s offense is his defence and no opponent to date has proved skilled enough to exploit these vulnerabilities. Moreover, a flash-knockdown against Jeff Page Jr. aside, he has demonstrated a solid chin in his career to date. The heavy-handed Prieto tried to go toe-to-toe with him and though he did land a few big shots none of them seemed to remotely trouble Beterbiev. One gets the impression from his fighting style that Beterbiev, like Gennady Golovkin, has confidence in his chin and is prepared to take some shots to land his own heavier firepower. Perhaps when he faces a fellow bona-fide puncher he will show another wrinkle to his game, but that day is yet to come. I would go out a limb to say that there is no light heavyweight today who can hang with Beterbiev at short and medium-range. Long-range is another matter. Current WBO cruiserweight king, Oleksandr Usyk, defeated Beterbiev twice as an amateur, using his reach and movement to negate the smaller man’s power. Within the light heavyweight division, Usyk’s countryman Oleksandr Gvozdyk comes to mind as someone with the height, reach and technical craft to give Beterbiev fits, as well as the punching power to gain his respect. Koelling is however no Gvozdyk.  

Since demolishing Cloud, still his best win on paper, Beterbiev’s career has remained stuck in second gear. His victims since then - Page Jr., faded former champ Gabriel Campillo, Alexander Johnson, Ezequiel Maderna and Prieto – are certainly no bums but they hardly rank amongst the cream of the light heavyweight division either. Although he will fight for a world title on Saturday, the reality is that Koelling is at best a sideways step from that level. One hates to make sweeping statements in a sport as unpredictable as boxing, but it is difficult to see how a man who went life and death with Ryno Liebenberg stands a chance against a beast like Beterbiev. This one will end brutally. The only mercy for Koelling is that it will be quick.

                                                                                                                             

Team BTG's Paul Lam Prediction: Beterbiev by first round KO/TKO.


Article by: Paul Lam

You can follow Paul on Twitter at: @PaulTheWallLam

By Behind The Gloves 24 Nov, 2017

Former Team GB amateur standout Harvey Horn has said he hopes to be fast-tracked as he embarks upon his professional career. Horn will make his debut on the undercard of a show featuring British world champions James DeGale and Lee Selby at London’s Copper Box Arena on December 9.

The 22-year-old signed a long-term promotional deal with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren at the beginning of October and will campaign in the Flyweight division. He trains out of the famous Peacock Gym in Canning Town under highly-respected coach Mark Tibbs.

The East-Londoner gained a wealth of experience in a fine amateur career where he won won the 2014 ABA championships, before continuing his progression in the following year after winning a European silver medal in Bulgaria. He then represented Team GB at the inaugural European Games in Baku.

Horn gained what could be crucial experience through participating in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) which he entered with the British Lionhearts squad. The pro-style boxing format sees participants compete without a vest and are not permitted to wear protective headgear over three-minute rounds.

"They’re five round fights, no vest, no head guard, it’s like a professional fight." said Horn, in an exclusive interview with Behind The Gloves reporter Isaiah Benjamin.

"I was in there with the world’s best, so as far as I’m concerned I’ve already had three or four professional fights already. I’ll jump in at four rounds to start and maybe have two of those and then move up to six rounders, but I don’t want to stick around on the six’s too long."

"Judging on how I’ve been performing the last few years, and with the WSB and amateur experience that I’ve got, I’m hoping to be fast-tracked and that’s something that is expected of me from my promoter and my trainer.” he continued.

By Behind The Gloves 24 Nov, 2017

Quick! Name two currently active professional boxers with more talent and skill than Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux? I'm not a gambling man but I'll bet the farm you can't do it. So don't even try. Listen, pedigree doesn't lie. Double Olympic gold medal winners don't grow on trees.

For the boxing faithful, 2017 has been a year where our cups have runneth over. We've had the drama of Wladimir Klitschko vs Anthony Joshua and Ward vs Kovalev, the controversy of the long awaited clash between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, and the shock of Roman Gonzalez getting unexpectedly bombed out by the dynamite fisted Thai, Sor Rungvisai. Whichever way you slice it boxing is on a roll this year. And it's not over yet.

On December 9th, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, we get the biggest fight in the sport that can be made in any weight class below 135lbs. And the second the Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux bout was officially announced, you could hear the collective sound of jaws dropping across the entire boxing landscape. In fact mine dropped so hard it hit the floor, bounced back up and knocked me clean out. 

A couple of swift kicks below the belt line from the wife - her version of first aid - woke me up and, apart from the searing pain in my groin, my first thought was of Loma-Rigo. The fact this fight is signed, sealed and delivered is almost too good to be true. So go ahead and slap yourself. This dream matchup is actually going to happen and if you're anything like me I'd wager you can't wait for the first bell to ring on fight night.

Moving forward I'll say this... It's a damn good time to be a follower of the "Sweet Science."

By Behind The Gloves 23 Nov, 2017

On 30 October 2017, Robert Smith of the BBBoC blamed Tyson Fury for delays to his anti-doping hearing.  He said to Sky Sports, “ We [the BBBoC] are ready to go, UKAD are ready to go on our behalf, and the independent panel are waiting for a confirmed date. It's up to them [Team Fury] now [to propose a date] ." 

Then, on 23 November 2017, Mr Smith reiterated to Sky Sports, " The reason why this has taken so long, so I have been led to believe, is because Mr Fury's legal team could not agree a date for the recommencement of the hearing. They obviously now have, and the hearing will recommence [in December 2017] ."

Mr Smith is incorrect. While Team Fury have been advised not to discuss this matter until it is over, we would like to clarify as follows:

(i) This matter started in February 2015 – almost 3 years ago – after routine doping control tests.

(ii) Tyson and Hughie were not notified of the results of those tests for 7 months, and even then UKAD simply asked them about their diet. There was never any suggestion that Tyson and Hughie had done anything wrong or that they might be in any sort of trouble.

(iii) Then, without warning, UKAD charged Tyson and Hughie in June 2016 in relation to the February 2015 tests – i.e. 16 months  after the tests.

(iv) A hearing eventually took place in May 2017 but was halted after UKAD objected to the participation of a tribunal member.

(v) Hearing dates were then proposed for early October 2017 but UKAD’s team ( not  Team Fury’s team) was unavailable.

(vi) A hearing has now been fixed for December 2017.

Contrary to the BBBoC’s suggestion, therefore, the delays have not been caused by Team Fury.


Source: Hennessy Sports [Press Release]

By Behind The Gloves 23 Nov, 2017

Belfast's Carl Frampton (24-1-0, 14 KO's) marked his return to the ring under new trainer Jamie Moore last Saturday night with a closely-contested, unanimous points victory over Horacio Garcia (33-4-1, 24 KO's) after ten months of inactivity. 

Frampton certainly impressed in a win that could in no way be described as 'routine'; it was, in fact, anything but. It was a win where he was required to utilise his boxing skills and masterfully navigate the ring early on against a tenacious opponent, in addition to harnessing his own reserves of grit and determination as the fight progressed into the gruelling later stages, with Garcia growing in confidence.

Nevertheless, prior to making his comeback after a seemingly acrimonious split with former manager and mentor Barry McGuigan, it has to be said that Frampton's previous claims of his own capability to knockout any fighter in the division do now appear, in hindsight, to be somewhat hollow.

It's not that the Ulsterman possesses insufficient or otherwise unremarkable power. On the contrary, the spite and varied selection of his punches are clearly one of Frampton's main attributes. Moreover, Frampton is an extremely well-rounded fighter who is, to say the least, adequate in almost every department, and according to popular consensus, he stands with rival Leo Santa Cruz are the two best in a talent-rich Featherweight division.

By Behind The Gloves 23 Nov, 2017

Most boxing fans will have experienced a sense of deja vu on Monday evening, when it was reported that former two division World Champion David Haye (28-3-0, 26 KO’s) had sustained a bicep injury as a result of a freak training accident, resulting in the postponement of next month’s scheduled rematch with Liverpool’s Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KO’s).

The previous fortnight had seen much speculation surrounding the proposed bout, with a spate of rumours doing the rounds concerning the fitness of the thirty-seven-year-old ahead of the upcoming pay-per-view clash.

Haye has now withdrawn from four of his last seven scheduled contests, and has fought just one live opponent since 2012: suffering an 11th round TKO loss at the hands of the aforementioned Tony Bellew, on that one inauspicious occasion. 

In spite of his latest injury setback, the former WBA World Heavyweight Champion has ambitiously proposed a rescheduled date of either March or May, pending venue availability. Whilst such optimism may be met with a degree of scepticism by many, it should come as no great surprise from a fighter who will be undoubtedly desperate to exact revenge upon his arch nemesis, and subsequently erase the image of him being punched through the ropes - and into defeat - in the first encounter in March of this year.

Upon suffering the shock reverse last time out, 'The Hayemaker' made the decision to part ways with trainer Shane McGuigan in favour of Cuban veteran Ismael Salas, who had relocated to London in order undertake the assignment. The fledgling partnership has appeared to be a success thus far, with Salas being handed the additional responsibility of training two of Haye’s most valuable promotional assets, in 2016 Olympian Joe Joyce and crossover MMA star Michael 'Venom' Page.

By Behind The Gloves 23 Nov, 2017
It was confirmed today that the eagerly anticipated World Boxing Super Series semi-final between George Groves (27-3-0, 20 KO's) and Chris Eubank Jr. (26-1-0, 20 KO's) will take place at the Manchester Arena on February 17th.

After weeks of speculation, with many fans expecting the bout to take place in London, the mouth-watering contest was confirmed for Manchester amidst a fervour of interest from the boxing public.

WBA 'Super" Champion Groves, who dispatched of another domestic rival in the shape of Jamie Cox in the fourth round of their quarter-final bout in October, had made no secret of his desire to bring the fight to Stamford Bridge, the home of his beloved Chelsea Football Club. However, due to a scheduling clash with Britain's FA Cup matches, the location - as well as many other mooted football stadiums - was deemed unfeasible.

For Groves, the clash in Manchester represents the first time he has returned to the Manchester Arena since his controversial first fight with former unified Super Middleweight Champion Carl Froch in 2013, a match that many observers felt was cut short by an early stoppage by referee Howard Foster.
By Behind The Gloves 22 Nov, 2017

Boxing's No. 1 superhero and undefeated WBC/WBA/IBF/IBO middleweight world champion Gennady "GGG" Golovkin is back home in the Los Angeles area after his well-received visit to the Mexico, the motherland of his boxing style. Joined by his trainer Abel Sanchez and promoter Tom Loeffler, Golovkin traveled to Mexico City this week to meet with his fans and thank them for the support they have  given him throughout his career and especially in the lead up and aftermath of his  September 16 title defense against Canelo Alvarez.  Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KO's), boxing's longest-reigning active world champion, has successfully defended the middleweight title 19 times -- one short of the record -- since 2010. 

Golovkin's whirlwind tour of Mexico City included a sustained standing ovation from 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium at halftime of the game between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots.  Golovkin, wearing his WBC world title belt, was introduced on the field at halftime and greeted by an entire stadium chanting 'Triple G' repeatedly.  The following day, the Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera, honored Golovkin with a proclamation declaring him a distinguished guest of the city.  The proclamation was in recognition of Golovkin's generous support of the victims of the earthquake.  The highlight of Golovkin's trip was an extended visit to the Moctezuma Pediatric Hospital to give hugs, high fives and toys to children who are battling cancer.  He also spent time with the relatives of the children, accompanied by the head of the Ministry of Health, Armando Ahued Ortega, and the president of the World Boxing Council (WBC) Mauricio Sulaiman.  

"It really touched my heart to visit the children in the hospital, it was nice to bring them a special moment for a day," said Golovkin.  "I have so much respect for the doctors and nurses who treat the children and their families every day. I am just thankful to God that I am in a position to be able to visit them and bring a smile to their faces.

It was a big honor to receive the official declaration from Governor Mancera, recognizing me as an official guest and International Ambassador of Mexico City.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we should all give thanks for the blessing we have received. My trip to Mexico certainly did that for me."

"Gennady has won the hearts of Mexican people and is considered one of their own," said Sulaiman. "His kindness and much love given to those little champions fighting for their lives was humbling and brought tears of joy to many of us. I'm so proud to have GGG as the WBC middleweight champion.  He truly represents the best of boxing in and outside the ring."

"When we walked onto the field in front of 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium and they were chanting 'Triple G,' it was one of those moments that you will remember forever, said Loeffler. "The secret to his success is GGG does more promoting of his career on a world-wide basis when he is not fighting than most fighters do when they have a fight coming up.  Last week he was in China with Jack Ma and this week he was in Mexico at the invitation of the president of the WBC."


Source: Sternberg Communications [Press Release]

By Behind The Gloves 22 Nov, 2017

On Saturday night in Madison Square Garden, New York, former IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev returns to the ring to face Vyacheslav Shabranskyy for one of his old belts, the WBO strap left vacant by Andre Ward in the wake of his retirement from boxing. Ward of course claimed the aforementioned trio of belts with a narrow and controversial points decision over Kovalev in November 2016, one which many felt should have gone in favour of the Russian, who knocked Ward down in the second round. The closeness of the fight begged for a rematch and Ward put a definitive stamp on their rivalry by stopping Kovalev in the eighth round. There were complaints from Kovalev’s side of repeated low blows from Ward leading up to the stoppage, but the reality is that Kovalev had already been badly hurt by legitimate punches to the head and body and had nothing left in his tank.

The past year has been as torrid and unforgiving as the Russian winter for Kovalev. He lost his unbeaten record, all his belts and was stopped for the first time in his career. He split acrimoniously with his long-time trainer, John David Jackson, amidst an exchange of insults and accusations over who was to blame for the reversals suffered in the ring. Moreover, he lost the aura of menace and invincibility that he carried with him to every bout. Lest we forget that, before the fights with Ward, the ‘Krusher’ was regarded as one of the most feared men in boxing; a formidable boxer-puncher with devastating power and a notorious mean streak which carried him to a record 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts, three world titles, a career-defining win against the legendary Bernard Hopkins and a place in most pound-for-pound rankings. He now has the opportunity for redemption, albeit against a lesser foe.

By Behind The Gloves 22 Nov, 2017
The world of social media was put on alert yesterday by Duco Events - promoters of WBO World Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker (24-0-0, 18 KO's) - after the New Zealand-based company teased the boxing community with an impromptu press conference, promising to shock the world with a video of "[Anthony] Joshua getting dropped repeatedly by little known opponents".

With such a bold, and seemingly definitive statement, Twitter was sent into overdrive, with a swarm of publicity leading to many boxing fans logging on to Duco Events Facebook page for the earth-shattering announcement. 
By Behind The Gloves 22 Nov, 2017
Four-division world champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) hosted a media workout today at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles ahead of the final fight of the future Hall of Famer's career, which will be against Sadam "World Kid" Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) for Cotto's WBO World Junior Middleweight Championship. The action will take place at the World's Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
 
Also participating in the workout was NABF Bantamweight Champion Oscar "El Jaguar" Negrete (17-0, 7 KOs), who will challenge Rey Vargas (30-0, 22 KOs) for the WBC World Super Bantamweight belt in the HBO-televised co-main event, along with Ronny Rios (28-2, 13 KOs) and Aaron "Silencer" McKenna who will also be on the card in separate bouts that will be streamed on RingTV.com .
 
Here is what today's participants had to say at the workout:
 
MIGUEL COTTO, Four Division World Champion:
"Though it has been my last training camp, everything has gone well and been the same. The fact that it is my last fight has not changed anything. I have always dedicated myself fully and have worked hard, and that's why I'm here now, finishing my career on my terms. I haven't really felt nostalgia yet during the final days of my camp. I'm just grateful for what boxing has given me and for the life it has allowed me to give to my children."

OSCAR "EL JAGUAR" NEGRETE, Current NABF Bantamweight Champion:
"I'm so excited for this opportunity. This is everything that I have worked for so far in my career. Being undefeated doesn't make him [Rey Vargas] invincible. I'm a forced to be reckoned with. People may underestimate me, but I know what I've done to make sure I walk away with the victory."

RONNY RIOS, Featherweight Contender:
"I learned a lot from my last fight. I feel like that's prepared me a lot for this next one. From my last fight I learned that I need to throw more punches and be more aggressive. If I would have just thrown 20 more punches in every round, things would have looked a lot different. I'm prepared for [Deivis] Julio, and I'm ready for fight night. As soon as I got the call, I was ready. I always stay ready in between fights."

AARON "SILENCER" MCKENNA, Welterweight Prospect:
"Today's workout and meeting the LA press was fantastic! I had a tremendous training camp and have had some really strong sparring at Maywood Gym. Ever since I put on my first pair of gloves at the age of 6, all the hard training, tournaments, amateur fights have led to me fighting at Madison Square Garden Dec. 2. I'm a delighted to be making my pro-debut and look forward to putting on a great show for the fans!"
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