Destroyers are fun.

There’s a reason boxing records are written and announced as they are. How many wins? How many losses? How many knockouts? That last number has always mattered. No one really bothers to count up the number of unanimous decision victories.

In boxing, victory is always one shot away. Whether a scrap is scheduled for four, six, eight, ten, or twelve rounds, in boxing that’s just a maximum. Part of the reason to tune in is to see if someone is capable of getting to the showers earlier.

Lineal light heavyweight king Artur Beterbiev is better at getting to the showers early than any other fighter in boxing right now. Eighteen up. Eighteen out. 


Just weeks after bantamweight Naoya Inoue blitzed future hall of fame entrant Nonito Donaire in two frames, Beterbiev supplied a second-round detonation in similarly impressive fashion. Boxing has a lot of exceptional talent in a lot of weight classes right now seemingly at or near the top of their game with a range of styles. Beterbiev, Inoue, and Gervonta Davis stand out for their ability to end matters early.

Beterbiev was favored to defeat Joe Smith in their three-belt unification last Saturday but most expected a pretty fun punchers duel for at least a little while. Smith had been stopped before but not since 2010. 

While he didn’t win them all in the last dozen years, Smith had been in with some very good light heavyweight. Smith retired Bernard Hopkins, upset Eleider Alvarez, and lost decisions only to the very capable Sullivan Barrera and Dmitry Bivol. 

Beterbiev made his intentions known seconds into his fight with Smith, blasting him to the temple with a wicked right hand to begin a clinical dissection. It’s a cliche to say a fighter didn’t know what hit them. Smith knew what hit him, and kept hitting him. It was no contest.

In Beterbiev’s two most significant fights to date, unification contests with Smith and Oleksandr Gvozdyk, the Russian has risen all the way to the occasion. He’s a winner. He’s a gamer. There’s only one fight left at the moment that matters. 

Futures: Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev, based on who they have defeated at light heavyweight and the dominance they’ve shown off in doing so, are the clear cream of the light heavyweight crop. Beterbiev’s mandatory with Anthony Yarde might happen before they can get there. Beterbiev would be heavily favored. Gilberto Ramirez’s name has come up in relation to a challenge of Bivol. That is, on paper, a potentially dangerous encounter and one that could change the hierarchy.

Until something changes though, the showdown is obvious and carries the feeling of ripeness now. Beterbiev said he’d rather finish unifying after the fight Saturday. Bivol, hot off a win over super middleweight champion Saul Alvarez, has yet to shy away from anything.

As unification fever has become contagious in boxing, is Beterbiev-Bivol the one we don’t get or do the grown-ups get together and deliver the fight that matters most for both men and the sport in general? Stay tuned.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at