By Robert Hough at ringside
Photos: Sumio Yamada
Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) is not a graceful, artistic fighter, at times more awkward than effective – but when he’s effective, you’d like his chances against a train. The IBF light heavyweight champion defended his title in serious style with a fifth round knockout of Radivoje Kalajdzic (24-2, 17 KOs) on Saturday night at Stockton Arena in Stockton, California.
Kalajdzic moved a lot in the early going, at times elusive, at times aggressive. Beterbiev was patient, occasionally bull-rushing his opponent. When he landed the big punches, Kalajdzic hung on in there, cracking off some scoring blows of his own in frenzied exchanges.
It was Beterbiev who was doing the damage with both hands, though, slowly creating a sense of inevitability through the third and fourth rounds. Kalajdzic, who was dropped in the third round, was checked by the ringside doctor after it ended and after the fourth round.
The Russian – the only champion with a perfect knockout percentage – got right after it to start the fifth and closed the show with hellacious head shots. The referee stopped the fight at 13 seconds of the round.
Bob Arum, Beterbiev’s promoter, was impressed.
“He’s a real strong guy and the guy he fought can really punch, but they didn’t bother Beterbiev.”
The tall Russian is ready for anyone, his promoter believes.
“How do they handle a guy like this? He has all that power and punches don’t bother him.”