Montreal-based Beterbiev puts power against defence in title bout with Kolling

Montreal-based Beterbiev puts power against defence in title bout with Kolling

Artur Beterbiev from Canada lands a blow to Christian Cruz from the United States during their light-heavyweight bout in Montreal, Saturday, June 8, 2013. When Russian boxer Artur Beterbiev moved to Montreal in 2013, his goal was to win a world title as quickly as possible. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

MONTREAL — When Russian boxer Artur Beterbiev moved to Montreal in 2013, his goal was to win a world title as quickly as possible.

Beterbiev will get his chance on Saturday when he faces Enrico Kolling of Germany for the vacant International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight title in Fresno, Calif.

The hard-hitting Beterbiev (11-0) has stopped every opponent he has faced and has never been taken beyond seven rounds. Kolling (23-1) has only six knockouts.

“Kolling is probably the most complete fighter we’ve faced,” Beterbiev’s trainer Marc Ramsay said this week. “He’s not as much of an attacking threat as (former champion) Tavoris Cloud, but he is very strong defensively.

“He’s a guy who had a solid amateur career, where he faced a lot of good boxers. He really has a lot of experience. I’m expecting a good fight.”

It was to have been an elimination bout to determine the mandatory challenger for Andre Ward, but when the unified champion retired, his championship titles from the IBF, the World Boxing Association and the World Boxing Organization were left vacant. After negotiations with the IBF, it was decided Beterbiev and Kolling would fight for the title.

Ramsay said that despite having only 11 pro bouts, his fighter is ready to become champion.

“I’m not a fan of fast-tracking,” said Ramsay. “I like to go step by step.

“But when I started working with Artur and saw how he dominated the guys who faced him in training it became clear that you could skip some steps with him. When we faced Cloud (a second-round KO in 2014), it was a bit of a gamble, but Artur was so talented it was a calculated risk. After that it became clear that we didn’t need to face any inexperienced opponents. He had to fight 10- or 12-round bouts against guys with international experience and good records.”

Ramsay said 32-year-old Beterbiev will need to be patient against 27-year-old Kolling.

“His main strength is defence,” he said. “His defence is air-tight, like Arthur Abraham.

“It’s hard to get a clean shot in on him. He’ll have to wait for openings. And if Kolling ever shows a sign of weakness, you know Artur, he gets into another gear very quickly.”

Beterbiev hasn’t fought since his first-round knockout of Isidro Prieto on Dec. 23. Part of his inactivity stems from a dispute with promoter Yvon Michel on whether their contract remains valid. The case has gone to court.

Kolling hasn’t fought since his unanimous decision over Ryno Liebenberg in February.

Should Beterbiev win, the court case may delay his first title defence, but Ramsay is not concerned with that just yet.

“We wanted to seize this opportunity and what happens afterward is up to the lawyers and the courts to decide,” said Ramsay.

Frederic Daigle, The Canadian Press

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