Let’s start off with a quick math problem. What’s sixteen divided by eight? Take your time. If you came up with two, congratulations, your relationship with your Alexa is in a good place.
So what’s the significance of those numbers? Besides highlighting the fact that you went to public school, they represent the average number of fights Artur Beterbiev has had per year in his career. Sixteen professional bouts since June of 2013. Not exactly a Henry Armstrong-like pace.
Now, in the year of our lord 2021, two fights per year is pretty much average for a fighter of Beterbiev’s stature. What sets off the alarm bells here is that Beterbiev is already 36 years old. Not a lot of dudes who were born before the Challenger exploded running around with win column numbers in the teens.
Granted, Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KO) had a decorated amateur career and comes from a country that may not even exist anymore (I too went to public school) where career arcs differ from that of western countries. Couple that with promotional disputes and a global plague and you can start to see the root of his inactivity. The fact remains, however, that this is a young man’s game, and the window of one’s athletic prime begins closing gradually the moment your 20s officially end.
Beterbiev lives clean and obviously keeps himself in phenomenal shape. Still, you have to ask yourself…how many fighters do you know of who have gotten better after turning 36? The list is short, if there is one at all.
This is all to say that there is a ticking clock accompanying every move Beterbiev makes. Time is a professional fighter’s worst enemy. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. After a 519 day layoff, Beterbiev looked to make up some of the distance as he stepped back into the ring Saturday night at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow to take on unheralded challenger Adam Deines of Germany on an ESPN televised card.
Deines (19-2-1, 10 KO) is your classic tune-up opponent. A respectable record and a kickass scorpion tattoo. What more do you want? If you squint hard enough you can barely notice that his resume stinks worse than a clown corpse pulled from a minivan abandoned in the everglades. He was there to go rounds and make Beterbiev look good. He ultimately did both but not without forcing Beterbiev to earn it.
Lopsided odds and a rabid hometown crowd all pointed to a quick destruction and part-way through round 1 things looked to be headed down that road. Beterbiev clipped Deines on the top of the head and sent him to one knee. To his credit, Deines got up and continued to take the fight to his stronger opponent.
As Beterbiev slowly and methodically started breaking Deines down, the result of the fight became somewhat inevitable. Deines continued throwing punches, that often landed, but the intrigue past the midway point became whether or not he could finish on his feet and break Beterbiev’s knockout streak.
The answer to that question came in the 10th round as Beterbiev landed a barrage of punches that sent Deines to canvas. Before he could decide if he wanted to get up, his corner was on the ring apron, towel in hand, signaling the end of his night.
Deines put up a hell of a fight and acquitted himself well against an opponent he stood no reasonable chance of beating. But this was, for all intents and purposes, a stay-busy, get-your-shit-together fight for Beterbiev. He looked good in spots and ultimately got the result he wanted but it remains to be seen if his aforementioned shit is completely intact.
Beterbiev holds some belts or another at 175 lbs* and will look to add more in the near future as a fight against the winner of April 10th’s Joe Smith Jr-Maxim Vlasov appears next for him.
*Look it up if you care to know the specifics. I very much do not.
But whether he’s in against someone like Deines or Smith (does that sound like Dinosaur Smith to anyone else?) or Dmitry Bivol, the clock will always be ticking. There’s lots of work to be done and not a lot of time to do it for Beterbiev. Can he fend off father time and mother nature long enough to make life-changing money against Canelo Alvarez, should that opportunity arise?
Only time will tell.
And as we all know, time is the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the history of the sport.