The only boxing world champion with a 100% knockout rate is Artur Beterbiev.
He is regarded by his supporters as a brutal fighter who prefers to speak to opponents in the ring. He is a perplexing powerhouse to his rivals, unmoved and appearing unaffected by any opponent he has ever encountered.
He consistently goes unnoticed by his team while being a pound-for-pound great. To his detractors, he is altogether different.
He faces British challenger Anthony Yarde on Saturday night to defend his WBC, WBO, and IBF light-heavyweight crowns.
BBC Sport investigates the person who earned the fierce reputation.
Yarde, the underdog, believes he can unseat Beterbiev.
It’s not “mission impossible” to defeat Beterbiev, says Rankin
Before facing Beterbiev, Yarde is upbeat and believes that “this will be a moment.”
Why is Beterbiev such a unique fighter?
Beterbiev is renowned for his brutal finishing skills in the ring. Beterbiev has only advanced to the 12th round once in his professional career, and all 18 of his opponents have buckled under the pressure. Last summer, Beterbiev needed two rounds to defeat Joe Smith Jr., the champion of a rival team.
In 300 battles, he had a stellar amateur record, dropping just five of them. But according to Beterbiev’s instructors, there is no magic formula for his strength.
He doesn’t aim for the knockout, according to trainer Marc Ramsey.
Hannah Rankin, a former light-middleweight champion, argues that Beterbiev shouldn’t be regarded as a one-punch knockout specialist.
“He wears down his opponents before the punches finally finish them in. It builds up,” Rankin remarked.
“He slowly rips people apart. He also has a terrific chin. I’ve seen him take some heavy blows, walk right through them, then return the favor by striking back.
“He has this fixed worldview that makes him immovable. That is how he appears. His reputation as a monster stems from that.
Anthony Yarde, a boxer, on his struggle with anger, grief, and redemption
Russia is a major concern for Beterbiev in London.
Despite being a Canadian citizen for more than ten years, Beterbiev was born in Russia. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he was able to stop Russian fighters from competing because to his acquisition of Canadian citizenship in 2022.
He fought throughout his amateur career for Russia. The political overtones persist despite his team’s efforts to disassociate him from Russia.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen nation and a guy who has been charged with a long list of human rights violations, has frequently been spotted with Beterbiev.
Kadyrov frequently hangs out with fighters like UFC star Khamzat Chimaev and is an outspoken advocate of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After Kadyrov’s final fight in June of last year, Beterbiev made the trip to visit him and rejoice with him while blogging about it on social media.
In a lengthy Instagram post from last October, Beterbiev discussed his relationship with Kadyrov, praising him, and declaring: “I am glad [Kadyrov] is directly tied to my profession.”
Although Kadyrov is prohibited from entering the US and Canada, he still uses fighters like Beterbiev to boost his reputation. Beterbiev declined this week to respond to queries from the Guardian newspaper on Kadyrov.
Artem Dalakian, the Ukrainian flyweight world champion, chose to sit on the challenger’s side of the head table at the news conference on Thursday in order to avoid being seated in front of a picture of Beterbiev, who has not publicly discussed the conflict in Ukraine.
12 fights against Anthony Yarde
Can one defeat Beterbiev?
Beterbiev has no flaws, claims Rankin. Yarde claims there is no chance that his opponent, who turned 38 last week, is deteriorating.
John Scully, the assistant coach for Beterbiev, revealed that his fighter didn’t know who Yarde was until they first met at a press conference in London in December.
However, Beterbiev asserts that he took Yarde just as seriously as any other adversary.
He said, “I have a few strategies, but I can’t tell you.”
He presents a good challenge for me as a boxer. He’s had strong fights and a successful professional career. Like everyone else, I’ve made preparations for him.
The apparent trust in Beterbiev is underestimated. “No, I’m good,” he responded when asked if he felt any pressure.
Yarde, though, thinks Beterbiev’s arrogance might work against him. And according to Rankin, Beterbiev’s confidence in his ability to make a shot is what can allow for a surprise.
Beterbiev, who was knocked out by the British fighter Callum Johnson in their 2018 fight, was described as “susceptible to being hit” by Rankin.
“Yarde can be really explosive. He has higher hand speed and a powerful punch. Yarde can apply pressure if he can get going.