Hard-nosed puncher Artur Beterbiev might be characterized as being bashful to a fault.

The unified WBC, WBO, IBF 175-pound champion from Russia recently downplayed his own role in the achievements he has thus far garnered in professional boxing, attributing them to “luck.” With a 19-0 record, Beterbiev has the added distinction of having knocked out every fighter he has ever faced. In January, he rubbed out a game Anthony Yarde in eight rounds at Wembley Arena in London.  

Now, Beterbiev is looking to defend his titles against former 168-pound titlist Callum Smith of England on Aug. 19 at Centre Videotron in Quebec City.

“It’s nothing but luck,” Beterbiev said of his accomplishments in an interview with Le Journal de Montreal. “These 19 fights were all by luck. I win thanks to luck and I hope that this luck is going to keep going.

“Obviously, we prepare ourselves, we have training camps, but without luck it’s all meaningless. Luck is as important as preparation.”

Beterbiev, a Canadian citizen who has called Montreal home for the past decade, made his comments during a press conference in Quebec City. He was accompanied by his trainer, veteran Marc Ramsay, who offered to qualify his charge’s curious remarks.

“It seems like he’s really lucky,” Ramsay said facetiously. “I think that he’s just being a bit sarcastic. There’s a lot of work involved. That reminds me…recently, in the gym, a young boy asked him a few questions about his talent and he responded, ‘Stop looking at my talent and look at how hard I’m training.’ The joke, it’s a bit like that. There’s a lot of hard work.”

Boxing fans are seemingly no closer to seeing Beterbiev defend his belts against WBA titlist and fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed distinction in the 175-pound class. That fight, long regarded as one of the top matches to make in the sport, has been plagued by business politics.

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.