Artur Beterbiev looks to make his second title defense against Radivoje Kalajdzic
On Saturday, May 4, IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (13-0, 13KOs) will face the challenge of Radivoje “Hot Rod” Kalajdzic (24-1, 17KOs). The title fight, a Top Rank production, will air live on ESPN.
The bout will only be Beterbiev’s second defense of the belt since originally claiming it on November 11, 2017. Beterbiev bested Enrico Koelling to take ownership of the strap.
Despite only having thirteen fights, victories and knockouts to his name, Beterbiev has been a much celebrated fighter. For the last number of years, the Russian boxer has frequently had his name slathered in praise.
Many in the press were enamored by his power and technical abilities, while the crowds loved his concussive knockouts. This is not say that there has been a lack of turbulence for Beterbiev though.
In his last outing, Beterbiev’s opponent, Callum Johnson, dropped him in the second round. While it cannot be said that Artur Beterbiev was out on his feet, the shot was more than a flash knockdown.
Regardless of how significantly he was actually hurt, the IBF champion composed himself, finished the round and ultimately knocked Johnson out.
Marching into this next professional assignment, the Callum knockdown has received new scrutiny due to Kalajdzic’s recognized and respected power.
The Comeback Trail
Unlike his opponent, Kalajdzic has had to earn his bones without much fanfare or media attention. In fact, many believe that “Hot Rod” was the victim of hometown scoring when he dropped a controversial split decision loss to Marcus Browne.
The two fought in the Brooklyn Barclays Center, yet Browne was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. The April 16, 2016 decision to award Brown the win was emphatically boo’ed by the audience at hand.
This controversial decision is Kalajdzic’s sole loss. Paying this set back little mind, he got back on his horse and kept fighting. Now three opponents and three years, later “Hot Rod” is fighting for a title.
This is a tough one to call. While Beterbiev has the experience and power advantage, Kalajdzic also has power and is the more technical of the two. The IBF champion may be in for a tough night but look for him to keep his title!
However, do not be surprised if there is an upset here!
By: Bakari Simpson