There is a sense of wonder and astonishment from those that guided Artur Beterbiev out of Chechyna and in to becoming boxing’s scariest man, an awareness of his aura but from the safe distance.
But those who have thrown punches at him and felt Beterbiev’s force in return? They understand. They shake their heads in a way which you don’t see boxers often do.
Anyone out there brave enough to think Beterbiev is only flesh and bone like the rest of us? His trainer has a stark warning for you personally: “To watch the movie Jaws and to swim with a shark are two different things.”
Beterbiev has flattened all 15 of his opponents and holds the IBF and WBC light-heavyweight titles – he is the only reigning world champion with a 100 per cent KO ratio. His punches are of the thudding, accumulative variety but are delivered with skill and knowledge to ensure everyone on the receiving end will in the course of time go down.
The process of destruction begins in the days prior to battle, his trainer Marc Ramsay tells Sky Sports: “I can see opponents become intimidated in press conferences sometimes.
“When the first bell rings, it becomes intimidating.
“Emotions can go in any direction. An animal that is hurt wants to survive and its reaction can be different. You don’t necessarily have an advantage because you have intimidated someone – you still need to be careful.”
And that’s where Beterbiev’s cold, calculating methodology kicks in. Ramsay says he suffers badly with the nerves and overexcitement that all boxers feel but has a “composure” all through the fight.
His newest conquest was Oleksandr Gvozdyk – it absolutely was a unification fight between two unbeaten champions, an effective coin-toss of a fight, Gvozdyk from the school that also brought us Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk. Beterbiev slowly broke him down in the 10th round and left Gvozdyk shaking his head with bewilderment. He retired without fighting again.
Britain’s Callum Johnson’s stock rose in a four-round loss to Beterbiev – then admitted items that boxers very rarely say.
“His reputation got to me,” Johnson told Sky Sports. “He was pound-for-pound No 1 in the amateurs, that beast that nobody desired to fight, and he took that in to the pros.
“When the realisation sets in of where I was, and who I was against, I allow it get to me.
“I believed to my brother-in-law on the day of the fight: ‘People do not have a clue what I’m up against’.
“He’s a beast. I came 2nd to the best that there’s.
“He got me. That’s all there is to it.”
Johnson was on the floor in the first round but turned the fight right into a wild brawl when, out of nowhere, that he knocked Beterbiev down in round two. It wasn’t enough.
“The first-round knock-down I wasn’t looking,” Johnson said. “The ref said stop and I thought that I was safe but he knocked me into in a few days!
“When I [knocked him down] I was too cautious as a result of the first round.
“Nobody has made him look uncomfortable. He has been in his comfort zone but I made him uncomfortable.
“He’s not only your normal, average world champion. He is a pound-for-pound fighter.”
Beterbiev came to be in Dagestan, Russia, but of Chechen descent. He lost his father in a car crash when that he was 16, shortly after he’d started boxing.
He won 295 out of 300 amateur fights and featured at two Olympic Games – in 2008 that he lost controversially to Zhang Xiaoping, China’s representative, and in 2012 that he lost to Usyk. Usyk, currently, operates two weight divisions higher than Beterbiev.
“When I boxed in the Olympics it was my dream to win a gold medal. Not money,” he has said since.
His efforts did not go unnoticed. Canadian trainer Ramsay convinced local investors to finance a swoop for the Russian amateur, to relocate him to Montreal, and also to turn him in to a world-beating professional.
After one meeting in a restaurant where Ramsay pitched his case to become Beterbiev’s trainer (he has also turned Jean Pascal and Eleider Alvarez into light-heavyweight champions), a deal was struck.
“Beterbiev was winning being an amateur with a professional style which is maybe not common,” Ramsay told Sky Sports. “I saw the transition would be possible for him. I saw not only a world champion but a superstar.”
The brute force of Beterbiev was apparent when Ramsay first held the pads for him: “It is something special. He is pound-for-pound an enormous puncher.
“The thing with Beterbiev… every single punch hurts. The jab, a check left hook, just technical things but they still hurt. Everything he throws hurts.”
Is that power nature or nurture?
“Both. It is genetic. But I see how he trains. He brought exercises from Russia that I’ve never seen before. Young fighters see him in the gym and see that he is good. But I tell them: ‘Talent is one thing but pay attention to every, single thing that he does’. He does extra work. There is a reason he wins the way that he wins.”
Finding sparring partners for somebody who knocks out all of his opponents is really a thankless task that Ramsay describes as “horrible”. Beterbiev spars at full tilt to the extent where surviving as his sparring partner is really a nightmare.
“We sent back home a lot of guys because they get hurt,” Ramsay sighs. “I is able to see some guys just will not last.
“I ask them to execute a maximum of four rounds with Beterbiev.
“I find a way to finish 12 rounds of sparring somehow.”
The production line of bodies that ver quickly become battered comes at some cost: “He willingly invested a lot of money in to sparring.
“He has never been afraid to invest money into himself.
“Last camp we had six guys from America, Australia, Canada. We do what we need to do so he is ready, but it is very hard to find sparring partners.”
Last year, with 13 broken men left in Beterbiev’s wake, he signed to Top Rank who also oversee Tyson Fury in the US.
“We were aware of the legend of Beterbiev and his brutal nature of dismantling guys,” Top Rank president Todd DuBoef told Sky Sports.
“His ability to seek and destroy is so compelling. But we didn’t know the interest that everyone would have in him.”
The paradox of boxing’s scariest man is that, outside of the ring, that he lives a quiet and religious life 5,000 miles from your home. After years using Montreal as an exercise base Beterbiev has now relocated his wife, young ones and mother. They speak English although not yet French.
“It’s not similar to Russia but Artur likes society here, he feels at home, and wants to stay for the rest of his life,” said Ramsay.
Beterbiev described boxing for an income: “It is my job. If I work six days per week I don’t want to use my seventh day on boxing. I try to do my job in a good way.”
So what does that he do on the seventh day? “I enjoy time with my family, I take them to the cinema. I try to be a good father.”
Ramsay adds: “He is a very private guy who likes that he do his own stuff, very quietly.
“He is recognised in the street but he doesn’t have the celebrity of Jean Pascal, Lucian Bute or [UFC superstar] Georges St Pierre.
“He is very well-known in Russia. His social situation is above average. But Beterbiev is not boxing for money – he likes to challenge himself and realise his goals.”
He is a devout Muslim whose faith are at the forefront of every thing he does, down to his final words inside the ring prior to the punching begins if it is thought he prays.
The length of his beard was complained about by opponent Radivoje Kalajdzic last year. The California commission described the legality of its length as a “fine line” but, two days after the fight, Ramadan was to begin with and Muslim men aren’t supposed to shave during the holy month.
Beterbiev consented to trim it, not shave it off, and duly pounded his complaining rival to a fifth-round demise.
Earlier this year Beterbiev threatened to withdraw from the fight against Meng Fanlong since it was because of be staged in China on account of the country’s ongoing conflict with Uyghur, a native populace of Muslims.
The picture that is painted of this Russian champion with a law degree is of a wrecking ball inside the ropes but with so much more to provide away from boxing. He is said to be thoughtful, humanitarian and humble.
Beterbiev is aged 35 now, that he only turned pro at 28. Although he is referred to as a genetic freak inside the gymnasium and clean-living outside of it, perhaps age will be the rival to be wary of.
As for major future opponents? Beterbiev and Ramsay did not are expectant of for an additional that Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez would linger around at light-heavyweight. Canelo debuted in the division by beating WBO champion Sergey Kovalev last year, being a four-weight king, but vacated the belt and moved to a far more comfortable division soon after.
“It won’t ever happen,” Ramsay says of Beterbiev vs Canelo. “I don’t believe he will fight my guy. Fighting Kovalev and fighting Beterbiev are two different stories.”
His Russian compatriots in the same division, WBA champion Dmitry Bivol and Kovalev, are the two most obvious dream match-ups for Beterbiev. There has been an uneasiness with Kovalev that neither side describes too vividly, ever since Beterbiev beat him in the amateurs.
“When we got into a position to win a world title, there was never anything personal with Kovalev,” Ramsay insists. “It was a challenge because Kovalev was the world champion. Today he doesn’t speak about Kovalev or Bivol, he just wants the titles.”
A fight in the UK is really a real possibility.
“Beterbiev would fight in the UK in two seconds and he wouldn’t see it as an obligation,” Top Rank president DuBoef told Sky Sports.
Ramsay agreed: “It is quite possible once you look at how strong the division is in England. Anthony Yarde and Joshua Buatsi are promising challenges.
“I know the English fans would love Beterbiev’s offensive and spectacular type of boxing.”
DuBoef added: “He is a complete, absolute beast! Anything in front of him, that he takes down.
“He disregards ‘who’ or ‘where’. If you’re in front of him, goodbye. That’s it.
“Like Vasiliy Lomachenko, Beterbiev really wants to fight the best and has no issue with where a fight might be.”