PHILADELPHIA – There isn’t a world champion in boxing that has a higher knockout ratio than Artur Beterbiev.
The hard-hitting Russian light heavyweight has knocked out each of his 14 opponents since making his pro debut in June 2013. If that streak is to remain intact, Beterbiev will have to stop the best opponent he has faced as a pro inside the distance Friday night.
For Beterbiev, whether he defeats Gvozdyk by knockout or decision doesn’t much matter. While he appreciates praise for his power, Beterbiev isn’t fixated on continuing to win every bout by knockout.
“It’s not important,” Beterbiev told a group of reporters Wednesday at the Renaissance Philadelphia Airport Hotel. “I’m focused with [the] fight. Knockout or not knockout, I’m not focused for that.”
Marc Ramsay, Beterbiev’s trainer, called his 34-year-old fighter the hardest puncher with whom he has ever worked. Ramsay hopes people appreciate Beterbiev for more than his power, though, once he and Gvozdyk leave the ring at Temple University’s Liacouras Center.
Ramsay emphasized that Beterbiev’s knockout streak isn’t important to him, either.
“It’s never the objective for us,” Ramsay told BoxingScene.com. “The objective is to perform well, and to win the bout. In a boxing match, we cannot just expect that. If you have this in your head, it means you only have one option. For a fight of this [magnitude], it’s not smart for a trainer. You have to be ready for everything the night of the fight.”
Beterbiev will have to figure out a way Friday night to land a fight-changing punch against a sound technician who knows he can’t afford to make a single mistake against one of the most pulverizing punchers in boxing.
“If [Beterbiev] goes for the knockout, that means you only have one option in your head,” Ramsay said. “And you can’t go into a boxing match like this. You have to be prepared for every scenario.”
Ramsay and Beterbiev are more than prepared for his knockout streak to conclude, whether it’s Friday night or in another fight.
“I have had that thing with other fighters before,” Ramsay said. “I had other good punchers in my gym. With Artur, it’s really not a focus at all. At one point, we know we’re gonna do a fight where it’s gonna be a decision, and it’s gonna be the end of the streak. And that’s it. It’s not very important at all. Our objective is always to perform well and win the bout. End of story.”
ESPN will televise the 12-round, 175-pound title unification bout between Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs), the IBF champ, and Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs), the WBC champ, as the main event of a doubleheader Friday night. The telecast is set to start at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT with a 10-round welterweight bout that’ll match Brooklyn’s Luis Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs) against Uzbekistan’s Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.