Undefeated two-time Russian Olympian Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs) is sitting and waiting like a tiger for his chance to get at IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Andre “SOG” Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and get the better of him in his mauling type of fighting style. You can argue that Beterbiev was created to maul on the inside with his powerful upper body, short arms, and an uncanny ability to throw with devastating punching power from short range.
The late actor Bruce Lee was known for his one-inch punch that he could throw with out of this world power. Beterbiev seems to have the same ability as Lee to generate tons of power from short range. We saw first-hand recently how powerfully strong Beterbiev is on the inside when he smashed Isidro Ranoni Prieto in halting him in the 1st round on December 23 last month.
The win for Beterbiev put the light heavyweight champions Andre Ward, Adonis Stevenson and Nathan Cleverly that they now have to look over their shoulders at the Russian knockout artist, because he was coming for all of them.
The 32-year-old Ward’s once great outside fighting skills have deteriorated with his age, and he’s now only capable of wrestling and mauling on the inside. While those grappling skills were enough for Ward to impress three judges that worked his last fight against Sergey Kovalev on November 19, they won’t be enough for Ward to deal with the marvelous inside fighting ability that Beterbiev possesses. The Russian fighter is chomping at the bit waiting to get his chance at fighting Ward, because he obviously knows what he sees.
The Russian tiger sees an aging fighter that has the perfect style for him to destroy in the ring. With Ward now only capable of grappling with his opponents on the inside, he’s going to be easy pickings for Beterbiev when the two of them face each other.
Is it just a coincidence that Ward is now talking about wanting to retire just when Beterbiev has shown up in the boxing world, letting the other champions know that they’re going to have to deal with him if they want to hold onto their titles? We saw how an aging Joe Calzaghe retired just when a young Ward showed up many years ago. Now it looks like Ward might be the one retiring just when Beterbiev is coming on.
I think it’s very strange how Ward is talking retirement now. Has Ward seen Beterbiev fight and realizes that he can’t beat the Russian tiger with his incredible inside game?