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In this corner with Russ Anber: The return of Beterbiev

Artur Beterbiev

Boxing’s master of all trades Russ Anber surveys the light-heavyweight scene ahead of working Artur Beterbiev’s corner this weekend…

The light heavyweight scene is pretty interesting right now. And my man Artur Beterbiev is right there in the mix for a potential super fight.

The biggest fight out there – of course – would be a showdown between Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol, who recently beat Canelo. It’s a shame that this fight – if it happens – won’t be able to take place where it should take place – namely in Russia. When will it happen again that there is a potential fight of this magnitude between two unbeaten Russians? Just imagine what a huge event that could be in their homeland.

A lot of people have asked me what I made of Bivol’s performance against Canelo, so here goes. For me, it was a textbook perfect display by Bivol. He did everything he was supposed to do and did it great.

Having said that, as brilliant as Bivol was and as well as he performed I think Canelo went into the fight having drastically underestimated Bivol. I think Canelo felt that because Bivol was a handpicked opponent – he could have picked anyone else remember but went for Bivol – he wouldn’t be able to beat him.

I think Canelo thought Bivol would be overawed by the experience of fighting in such a huge fight. I also think Canelo saw that Bivol had been hurt against Joe Smith Jr. To be frank, I also think that Canelo started believing his own press clippings and maybe spent more time on the golf course than he did in the gym. And gold and boxing don’t mix well together. A round of gold takes so long, you spend too much time in the sun.

Bivol on the other hand prepared like he was going to fight King Kong. He did everything right and everything properly. Tactically, technically, physically and mentally he did everything right. And thank God Bivol eventually got the decision on the cards because the scores after the first four rounds were an absolute abomination.

And let’s not forget that had Canelo won the last round then the fight would have e been a draw. I don’t know why there wasn’t more made of that particularly by the commission in terms of holding the three judges accountable for their terrible scorecards. Instead, everyone just seemed to shrug and say: ‘well, the right man won’, rather than focus on the fact we were a whisker away from a grave injustice. That’s the wrong way to react.

Of course if we want to see Beterbiev fight Bivol, then Artur has to first get past Joe Smith Jr this Saturday at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, New York. To me, this is a fight that absolutely guarantees fireworks. I mean, even if the fight only lasts two minutes it will be hell for two minutes!

I can’t see any way that this fight is not a really exciting fight. Beterbiev loves to fight and both guys are gonna be firing for all they’re worth. The Smith camp are going to be telling themselves that Artur is vulnerable and trying to box their way to an opening where they can land that big right hand. Beterbiev is going to have to make sure he breaks Smith down in a similar fashion to how he broke down Marcus Browne. It could well be a war of attrition and it’s certainly a dangerous fight for Artur.

However, Marc Ramsay, Beterbiev’s trainer who I’ll be working alongside in the corner on Saturday, put it best when I spoke to him the other day. I asked him how he felt about the fight and he said: “It’s not an easy fight. It’s a very dangerous fight but if I had the choice of which corner to be in I’d pick my guy every time!”

I understand why he’s saying that because Beterbiev is a fantastic fighter. If he were to fight Bivol then it would be a fascinating match-up. Bivol is the more refined boxer technically – he’s much the smoother, more well-schooled tactician. He’s very basic in what he does but really high level basic! His reactions are fantastic.

But would Bivol be able to hold off the pressure that Beterbiev brings? Would he be able to avoid the power of Beterbiev over the 12-round distance?

That’s the question and I sure can’t wait to see what the answer is!

Russ Anber was in conversation with Luke Williams.

Russ Anber is the founder/CEO of Rival Boxing, as well as a highly respected trainer (of both pros and amateurs), a gym owner, a cut-man, an entrepreneur, a broadcaster and one of the best hand wrappers in the boxing business. Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, Artur Beterbiev, Callum Smith and Michael Conlan are among the many top boxers Russ currently works with.