Russian light-heavyweight Artur Beterbiev, one of the most promising and powerful prospects in boxing today, will return to action on June 4th in his adopted Canada. Sidelined since June of last year due to a serious shoulder injury, Beterbiev, 9-0(9) will face Ezquiel Osvaldo Maderna in Montreal in a fight that will go out live on ESPN’s first fight card of the year.
Beterbiev, a superb amateur, has yet to be extended beyond the 7th-round and impressive stoppage wins over former champion Tarvoris Cloud and Gabriel Campillo really put the 31-year-old on the world stage; this after just a handful of fights.
Then came the injury, halting his progress after his June 2015 win over Alexander Johnson in Chicago, in what was Beterbiev’s US debut. At age 31, time may not be on Beterbiev’s side, but with his withering punching power, this 175-pound wrecking machine may well rise to the very top anyway.
The possibility of ring-rust aside, and any lingering problems with the shoulder, Beterbiev should be able to keep his perfect record against Maderna, 23-2(15), but that impressive string of consecutive KO’s might not remain intact. The Argentine from Buenos Aires has never been stopped and his two losses came via close decision to Edwin Rodriguez (then unbeaten at 22-0) and to Thomas Oosthuizen (then also unbeaten at 21-0-2). Boxing mostly at home (the two defeats aside), Maderna is nevertheless a capable and experienced test for Beterbiev, especially as a “comeback” opponent. Also a fine amateur, Maderna boxed at the Beijing Olympics.
Still, Maderna has not been active as of late himself, last boxing in May of last year. So who wins out of the two returning fighters who between them have over two years of inactivity to shake off? Beterbiev has to be the pick, but he may have to go the distance for the first time as a pro. Big things are still expected of Beterbiev, a fighter who is as exciting as he is powerful (he has a real desire to slug and exchange and he has been down before, making his fights potential thrillers each time out) and hopefully the expectations will be lived up to.
Not too long ago, many good judges had Beterbiev down as a certain future champion. An impressive display on June 4th would go a fair way towards restoring this view.