By Ian S Palmer
The vacant IBF Light Heavyweight Title will be on the line this Saturday, November 11th when undefeated Artur Beterbiev of Russia takes on Enrico Koelling of Germany in Fresno, California. The 12-round bout can be seen live in the U.S. On ESPN and ESPN Deportes while fans in the UK can catch it live on BoxNation. Beterbiev last fought in December of 2016 when he stopped Isidro Ranoni Prieto in the first round. Koelling’s last bout took place in April when he beat Ryno Liebenberg by a 10-round unanimous decision.
The 32-year-old Beterbiev is a former world amateur champion and Olympian who turned pro in 2013. he now fights out of Montreal, Canada and has boxed just 31 rounds as a pro. The reason for this is because he’s knocked out all of his opponents while compiling a perfect record of 11-0 with 11 Kos. This of course means his knockout ratio currently stands at 100 per cent. His biggest wins so far have been knockouts over former world champions Gabriel Campillo in 2015 and Tavoris Cloud a year earlier.
Beterbiev isn’t the biggest light heavyweight around as he’s just under 6-feet tall with a reach of 73.5 inches. He obviously has fine boxing skills that were utilized during his amateur career, but since he’s turned pro he hasn’t really had the chance to use them. He’s been on a seek and destroy mission over the past few years and has been very successful at it. And to help matters out, he also appears to have a pretty solid chin.
The 27-year-old Koelling hails from Berlin and enters the bout with a fine record of 23-1. However, he has just 6 Kos to his name. His lone defeat came at the hands of Mirco Ricci by way of a 12-round unanimous decision in February of 2015. His biggest wins have been a pair of decisions over Ryno Liebenberg. Koelling turned pro in 2012 and has boxed 176 rounds since then. He lacks power with a current knockout ratio of just 25 per cent. He also had a fine amateur career at boxed at the 2012 Olympics.
Koelling stands 5-feet-11-inches tall and has an unlisted reach. He has good boxing skills and chin, but hasn’t taken on anybody of note up to now. He’ll be taking a bit of a jump up in class against Beterbiev and will definitely have his chin tested in the bout. His lack of power will certainly hurt him as he’s not going to be able to keep Beterbiev off of him for the entire 12 rounds. Koelling will have to try to keep him at bay with a stiff jab and by landing first.
Beterbiev has been on the canvas before as Jeff Page Jr. dropped him in the first round with a right hand back in December of 2014. However he got up from the canvas and stopped Page the next round after decking him twice. The knock against Beterbiev is that he doesn’t use his jab enough, lacks hand speed and doesn’t move his head either, which makes him a bit of a sitting duck. But he hasn’t paid for it yet due to his tremendous power.
Beterbiev has limited skills for a former Olympian, but makes up for it in power. Koelling arguably possesses the better boxing skills, but he’s a light hitter. I expect Beterbiev to eventually catch up with the German sooner or later and take the vacant title, likely by stoppage.