It took Artur Beterbiev a little longer than the lopsided odds suggested Saturday night, but he eventually stopped Adam Deines.
A short, destructive left hook by Beterbiev sent Deines to his gloves and knees with 1:25 to go in the 10th round. A courageous Deines beat the count, but his trainer threw in the towel to stop a main event ESPN televised from Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow.
Referee Yury Koptsev stopped their scheduled 12-round fight for Beterbiev’s IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles, despite Deines’ willingness to continue.
Beterbiev dropped Deines once in the first round and once in the 10th round on his way to keeping his perfect record intact (16-0, 16 KOs).
Beterbiev, 36, fought in Russia for the first time since he turned pro in June 2013.
His victory Saturday night ended a 17-month layoff. In his previous appearance, Beterbiev stopped Ukraine’s Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in the 10th round of their title unification fight in October 2019 in Philadelphia.
Beterbiev defended his IBF belt that night and won the WBC crown versus Gvozdyk.
The Russian-born Deines (19-2-1, 10 KOs) lost by knockout for the first time in six years as a pro.
The round before Beterbiev ended their bout, Beterbiev battered Deines with an array of power punches in the opening minute of the ninth round. Deines landed two left hands in the final minute of the ninth round.
Beterbiev blasted Deines with a right uppercut and a left hook with just over 30 seconds to go in the eighth round. Beterbiev then slipped to the canvas with 25 seconds remaining in that eighth round.
Beterbiev continued to land thudding power shots to Deines’ head during the seventh round. A chopping left hand to the side of Deines’ head made him retreat in the final minute of the seventh round.
Deines initiated several clinches in the seventh round, but Koptsev broke them up quickly each time.
Beterbiev’s right knocked Deines into the ropes 45 seconds into the sixth round. A lunging right hand by Beterbiev caught Deines about 30 seconds later.
A combination by Beterbiev affected Deines with about a minute to go in the sixth round. The champion was wearing down Deines, but the challenger kept throwing punches.
Beterbiev belted Deines with a right to the body and then a left to the body with just over a minute to go in the fifth round. Deines fired back with a straight left hand after Beterbiev landed a right toward the end of the fifth round.
A left uppercut by Beterbiev was followed up by an overhand right about a minute into the fourth round. Beterbiev’s left uppercut snapped back Deines’ head with just under a minute left in the fourth round.
Beterbiev caught Deines with a short, left hook with just under 1:20 to go in the third round. Deines remained active in that third round and was willing to exchange with Beterbiev.
A right-left combination by Deines made Beterbiev reset his feet with 47 seconds remaining in the second round. Beterbiev snuck a left hook around Deines’ guard late in the second round.
Deines came forward and tried to land on the heavily favored champion during the first round. Beterbiev blocked most of those punches.
Late in the first round, Beterbiev grazed Deines with a right hand to the top of his head that sent Deines to one knee. Deines got up quickly and the bell sounded to end the opening round several seconds later.
Beterbiev and Deines first were supposed to fight October 23. Their bout was postponed until January 30 because Beterbiev suffered a rib injury while training.
It was postponed again, from January 30 until Saturday night, once Beterbiev contracted COVID-19 late in December.
Deines was a replacement last year for the mandatory challenger for Beterbiev’s IBF belt, Meng Fanlong.
China’s Fanlong (16-0, 10 KOs) was scheduled to battle Beterbiev for his IBF and WBC belts last March 28 at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada. That fight was canceled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once the site for Beterbiev’s title defense was switched from Quebec City to Moscow, Fanlong withdrew because visa issues prevented him from traveling to Russia. Fanlong defeated Deines by unanimous decision in an IBF elimination match in June 2019 in Macau, China, to earn his shot at Beterbiev’s belt.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.