Either former light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud is totally shot and finished as a meaningful fighter or Artur Beterbiev is the real deal and a potential new star on the world boxing scene.
The reality is it’s probably a bit of both but, wow, was Beterbiev impressive blowing away Cloud in the second round of a four-knockdown complete destruction on Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
However shot you might think Cloud is, Beterbiev’s performance was still eye-catching.
Cloud (24-3, 19 KOs) is only 32, but he looks just about done after losing his third fight in a row in the most lopsided fashion yet. He may have lost two previous fights, but he didn’t get destroyed like this.
In the two losses that preceded the loss to Beterbiev, Cloud lasted into the seventh round challenging light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson last September before getting stopped. In the fight before that, Cloud lost his belt and his first fight to the great Bernard Hopkins in a one-sided decision in March 2013. But Beterbiev (6-0, 6 KOs) laid waste to Cloud. And he did it quickly and ruthlessly.
Those who have followed Beterbiev know that he has vast potential. Still, there’s a difference between having the p-word and actually living up to it. So far, Beterbiev, who is 29 but didn’t turn pro until June 2013, is living up to his billing as the bluest of blue-chip prospects.
His amateur background is impressive. Beterbiev, who now makes Montreal his home, was a 2008 and 2012 Russian Olympian, a 2009 world amateur champion, and owns a pair of amateur wins against countryman and light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev, one of the most destructive forces in boxing today.
As a pro, Beterbiev’s opposition pre-Cloud was nothing too much to write home about. Only one of his first five opponents had a winning record (and barely). Three had sub-.500 records. One opponent was .500. Still even watching him against lesser opponents it was obvious that he had talent and a certain ferocity about him. Promoter Yvon Michel, who has promoted some top fighters in his time and been around for many years, has called him special. He just might be right after seeing what he did to Cloud.
What he did to him was knock him down to a knee with an onslaught of head shots, including a nasty uppercut, with 42 seconds left in the first round. An onslaught of rights and left sent him to the mat 20 seconds later and yet another series of blows dropped him for the third time right at the bell ending the round.
Cloud was basically finished at that point. He was brave to come out for the second round but he had nothing. Beterbiev immediately attacked him, backed him into a corner and was swinging heavy shots. He connected with two booming left hooks to the head and Cloud went down face first, getting counted out by referee Michael Griffin 38 seconds into the round.
It was undoubtedly the end of Cloud’s career as a meaningful fighter but also the exciting birth of Beterbiev’s position as the possible future of the light heavyweight division.