Here is an element about the pandemic which hasn’t been mentioned much: the slowdown in content generation from March 2020 until now, because the game is still being affected by COVID positives, is going to be rougher on some older fighters than some young guns. I’m thinking of Artur Beterbiev, the 36 year old Russian born resident of Canada.
Beterbiev holds a 16-0 record, and has fought once since fall 2019.
The fearsome hitter gloves up again on Dec. 17, against Marcus Browne, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, topping a Top Rank card running on ESPN+. That’s good news, from my perspective, because it means that PBC and Al Haymon are doing business with Bob Arum and Top Rank, more business, and that means if that continues, boxing fans will see more compelling matchups.
I got thinking about the age gap, as the 24-1 Browne is a “young” 30, he hasn’t taken on the wear and tear that many world class 30 year olds have. He fights pretty much twice a year, and yes, he’s had to work against Hot Rod Kalajdzic (2016), Badou Jack (January 2019), and then some against Jean Pascal (August 2019). But he had a nice rest-up after the Pascal tango, and came back against journeyman Denis Grachev in April 2021. Yes, he might be finding on fight night he doesn’t get acclimated as quick as he’d like and that his timing and accuracy isn’t optimal. But Beterbiev, maybe he should be more “worried” about “inactivity.”
Maybe it’s helpful, maybe the fact that Beterbiev fought twice in 2016, once in 2017, once in 2019, twice in 2019, and not at all in 2020 before beating Adam Deines in March 2021 (TKO10 win) means that he in boxing years isn’t so much an “old” 36.
Or maybe he finds on fight night that his brain-body network isn’t firing on all the cylinders, that some rust buildup in the engine is taking something from him.
I checked in with Marc Ramsay, Beterbiev’s coach, to get his thoughts on the Beterbiev v Browne matchup. I suspect that plenty of activity at the betting windows will be in effect, because my intuition says that lots of boxing sharps think that the younger gun Browne might be enjoying his age advantage on fight night. Fans will be looking for the best Canadian betting sites to use.
“I’m still very busy with all my fighters, just won the first bridgerweight title with Oscar Rivas and now I’m focusing on the training camp with Beterbiev,” said Ramsay, who also has Christian Mbilli in the gym to prepare for Ronald Ellis next month.
Plenty of folks are thinking that Browne, a lefty with a 24-1 mark whose lone loss is to Pascal in a firefight, will be helped by the fact that Beterbiev has dealt with injuries and COVID.
You might recall, in February 2020, we learned Beterbiev was going to be challenged by Meng Fanlong, a 6-2 lefty from China. But that got scratched in mid March, when all the boxing shows pretty much were halted, because of the prevalence of COVID.
It got reset to Sept. 25, but Menlong’s visa issues forced the insertion of Adam Deines into the challenger slot.
Then the date shifted to Oct. 23, but Beterbiev hurt his ribs, so Oct. 23 was off. January 30, 2021 was the replacement date…and that too went off the rails, as in late December 2020 we learned that a case of Covid for Beterbiev meant that he’d need time to get back to normal.
March 20, this time the date stuck, and Beterbiev went to 16-0, and kept his perfect stoppage mark intact, getting his 16th early ending.
The WBC recommended Beterbiev put his WBC crown up for grabs against Marcus Browne, who shifted his attention from a possible battle against Zurdo Ramirez to Beterbiev, and his titles. A purse bid saw Top Rank win the right to present Beterbiev’s WBC mandatory defense; it was decided that Dec. 17 in Montreal, it would go down. So, we got a bit of time to go, and will keep fingers crossed that fate allows the contest to play out.
Ramsay said it’s no big thing, Beterbiev is a consummate pro, not someone who bloats up between fights, he isn’t someone you have to cajole back to the gym. “After his last fight Artur took about two weeks off and returned to the gym after. He never really stops training, he’s never far from the gym.”
And what’s his take on Browne, what does the Staten Islander bring to the table? “Very good technically and probably the fastest light heavyweight right now,” Ramsay said. “This is a real good challenge for Artur. I really believe the style of both boxers will give the fans what they want, something exciting. We are having right now a great training camp in Montreal and I’m expecting nothing less that a great performance from Artur on December 17th.”