The Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia hosts world title action this Saturday, as unified Light Heavyweight world champion, Artur Beterbiev makes a homecoming, and a first appearance in his homeland as a professional against Adam Deines.
Time is certainly getting on for 36-year-old Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs), and the WBC and IBF champion will want 2021 to be the year where he goes a long way to securing his legacy. A future fight with WBA champion Dmitry Bivol could be an option, while Gilberto Ramirez has moved up from Super Middleweight, and could soon become a mandatory challenger.
Firstly though, Beterbiev must deal with Deines (19-1-1, 10 KOs), a Germany-based Russian who will have designs on a massive upset.
Beterbiev was due to face Fanlong Meng in March 2020, but COVID-19 pushed the fight back seven months, and then Meng was unable to secure a visa, and Deines stepped in. That fight was then canned due to a rib injury to Beterbiev, and he then subsequently contracted COVID-19, scrapping a January 2021 date. The pair are set to finally meet this weekend.
Beterbiev is on a 100 percent knockout streak in his professional career, after achieving world champion status as an amateur. He won the vacant IBF title in November 2017, hammering Enrico Koelling to a 12th round knockout to lift the belt, but he had to get off the canvas in his first defence before rebounding to halt Britain’s Callum Johnson in four.
After a further defence, the Montreal resident then unified in his last contest, coming from behind on two cards to stop Oleksandr Gvozdyk in ten to add the Ukrainian’s WBC belt to the mantelpiece.
2020 was a washout, so the champion will aim to make up for lost time.
Deines’ sole defeat came in an IBF eliminator in June 2019 to the aforementioned Fanlong Meng, with the Chinese man taking a points win after coming off the floor in the eighth. The 30-year-old has won two straight since, his last a second round knockout of Yevgenii Makhteienko in September 2019.
Prediction: Beterbiev should be all business here, as he looks to shake off over a year’s worth of frustration on Deines. I can’t see the challenger lasting the distance, and Artur should be able to score a knockout win within six rounds.
Alexander Besputin (13-0, 9 KOs) also returns to action on the bill, after failing a post-fight drug test after his last appearance.
The California-based Russian won the WBA Welterweight title in Monaco in November 2019 against Radzhab Butaev, but subsequently failed both A and B samples for the performance enhancing substance, Ligandrol and was stripped of his title, with the bout ruled a no contest.
He comes back from that debacle here over ten rounds against Maximiliano Ricardo Veron (12-3-1, 4 KOs). Veron fights outside of his native Argentina for the first time, and has won only one of his previous five outings.
Prediction: Besputin should score a stoppage win by halfway.
Azizbek Abdugofurov (13-0, 5 KOs) defends his WBC Silver Super Middleweight crown, and the Uzbekh should take a clear points win against Pavel Silyagin (6-0, 4 KOs) over twelve.
Highly-regarded Georgian, Kharlton Agrba (4-0, 1 KO) should be able to halt Venezuela’s Helber Rojas (13-3-2, 11 KOs) inside the distance in their Super Lightweight ten rounder.