Artur Beterbiev fights through gruesome cut to keep KO streak alive

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  • Artur Beterbiev
    Russian boxer

Not even a hole in Artur Beterbiev’s head could slow him down.

The light heavyweight champion, fighting with a horrible gash in his forehead from the fourth round on, beat up, broke down and finally stopped Marcus Browne in the ninth round Friday in Montreal.

That makes 17 knockouts in as many fights for the physically imposing Russian, who was making his fifth title defense.

Beterbiev got off to a typically slow start, as the quick, skillful Browne (24-2, 16 KOs) jabbed consistently, landed a few power shots and used his feet to stay out of trouble the first few rounds of the fight.

However, the WBC and IBF titleholder closed the distance by the third round, during which he began to land accurate, damaging punches – to both the head and body – and Browne’s motor started to stall.

A clash of heads in Round 4 opened up cuts on the foreheads of both fighters but Beterbiev got the much worse of the deal, as blood gushed from his deep cut from the time the accidental butt occurred.

A doctor who examined both fighters before the start of Round 5 gave Beterbiev “one more round,” but for whatever reason the fight was allowed to continue.

And that was unfortunate for Browne, who took more and more punishing blows as the fight progressed. He took a knee as the result of a left hook to the body midway through Round 7 but survived.

Browne did a little better in Round 8, when Beterbiev might’ve been catching his breath. Then, at the start of Round 9, Beterbiev poured on the pressure. He backed Browne against the ropes and unloaded a vicious flurry, punctuated by another left hook to the body, that forced Browne to take a knee again.

This time, clearly a beaten man, he stayed there. The official time of the stoppage was 46 seconds of Round 9.

“This one was another experience in my career,” said Beterbiev, pointing to his cut. “… It’s boxing. You don’t know what happens in boxing. I’m happy to win.”

Artur ABeterbiev celebrates his 17th knockout in as many fights. Bernard Brault / GYM

Beterbiev is 35, meaning whatever he plans to do going forward he might want to do it quickly.

He has good options. He could target fellow titleholders Dmitry Bivol (WBA) and Joe Smith Jr. (WBO). And he has been mentioned as a potential foe for undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, against whom Beterbiev would make a fortune.

Would Alvarez really consider tangling the man who just destroyed a good, strapping light heavyweight in Browne? Stay tuned.

“We will see,” Beterbiev said. “I’m ready for any fight. I’m looking for the best. To be the best you need to beat the best.”