Could Beterbiev KO Hopkins?

January 9, 2024
3 months

Artur Beterbiev is just days away from his title defense against Callum Smith in Quebec City, Canada. The Russian-born boxer is famous for ending fights having won all 19 of his matches by KO. Whether or not he makes it 20 out of 20, there’s speculation as to whether the division was stronger and if he would be as successful. Let’s say if he had to fight… the legendary Bernard Hopkins.

Beterbiev: 19 Knockouts and Counting

There are few fighters to compare with Artur Beterbiev’s win to KO percentage. He’s literally finished every fight he’s had. All 19 of them, without asterisk or conjecture. The longest a fighter ever got against him was Marcus Browne, who managed to make it to the ninth round. Everyone else has been shown the canvas earlier. He will be relying on the same kind of power to get past Callum Smith later this month in order to retain his light-heavyweight championships. If he gets his 20th consecutive KO victory, he’ll make more than his share of the latest boxing news online across fight sports media.

Is Beterbiev Too Good for the Light-Heavyweight Division?

While Artur Beterbiev can only fight the men placed in front of him, there’s a lot to say that the light-heavyweight division simply isn’t as good as it used to be, especially when considering the strength of other divisions right now.

Beterbiev is fighting Callum Smith…who’s not the biggest opponent to generate online boxing news. The only glamor tie that could happen in the foreseeable future would be a unification bout between Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol. After which, it would be hard to lay a road map for the winner to stay at light-heavyweight.

Boxing fans would be far more engaged if Beterbiev would try to land his KO antics in the heavyweight division or cut some weight and fight in the super middleweight ranks. That would open up a lot more interesting fights against established names to match his level like John Ryder, Demetrius Andrade, Caleb Plant, Jaime Munguia, and even Canelo Alvarez.

Apples to apples, the contemporary light-heavyweight division just doesn’t stack up. It lacks the quality it used to exude with boxers like Sugar Ray Robinson, Roy Jones Jr., Dan Azeez, and Bernard Hopkins.

Hopkins Aged Into Light-Heavyweight

It’s very hard to encapsulate the entirety of Bernard Hopkins’ career. A very outspoken man with a lot of opinions on seemingly everything. Hopkins in the in-ring, however, could mix it with anyone during his career. While he started as a middleweight fighter at the age of 41, he won the IBO light heavyweight title.

He continued to fight, even after his setback loss to Joe Calzaghe, fighting the best light heavyweight boxers and winning championships. While he loved to knock out his opponents as a middleweight champion, his exceptional conditioning, boxing IQ, and experience led to his success at light heavyweight, as he would often outscore his opponents and win via decision. He fought his last fight in 2016, at the age of 51, when he lost to Joe Smith Jr., at which point he called time on his career.

How Would The Fight Play Out?

In a potential fight between Artur Beterbiev and Bernard Hopkins in the light heavyweight division, there would be two distinct styles. The Russian-Canadian would be looking for the finish in every round. Every action would lead to a potential finish. No stone would be left unturned; he wouldn’t be reckless, just incredibly efficiently aggressive.

By comparison, given that the light heavyweight edition of Hopkins is in this fight, he would be a lot more conservative. Of course, he would have riled up Beterbiev in the build-up to the fight with his famous over-the-line trash-talking antics and would try to play on those emotions in the fight. He’d actively coax the aggression out of his opponent to encourage mistakes, allowing him to win the fight round by round. If the two were to fight at middleweight, then it’s a lottery. The fight would resemble the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em toy, as both men would launch very offensively.

Could This Fight Have Ever Happened?

In theory, yes. There was a decent period when Artur Beterbiev had started fighting professionally and Bernard Hopkins was winding his career down between 2013 and 2016. It could have been seen as unfair to throw a young Beterbiev up against a veteran like Hopkins at the time, but the result would have sent shockwaves through the division. Imagine if Artur had knocked out the legendary Hopkins?! It would have most certainly given his career a fast track to glory. The only problem was that Hopkins was still winning championship fights so it would have been a long road for these to ever meet, considering that Beterbiev was still fighting in small venues in Canada at that point.

It was reported in 2015 that Hopkins was indeed offered the chance to fight a young Beterbiev. However, the American apparently turned it down as he wanted to go back to super middleweight at the time. He stated that a fight with Arthur Abraham would ‘absolutely happen.’ Yet no fight ever took place, and Hopkins never went back to that division.

When Hopkins fought his last fight in December 2016, Artur would have been 10-0. He was the reigning NABA light heavyweight champion, and the IBF was looking to bring him in for a title shot. At this point, Hopkins should have reached out and seen if the prior offer was still on the table. It might have resurrected his career if he defeated this new kid on the block, making him credible again in the eyes of boxing news sites. Or he could have just been seeing stars again.

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