Beterbiev is just on another level – an interview with the champion’s coach


June 18 in New York (USA) on the small stage of the legendary arena Madison Square Garden a unification match of light heavyweight champions will take place – Russian puncher Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) will fight with American Joe Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs).

On the eve of the battle
Adam Abramowitz talked with favorite coach Mark Ramsey.

On Beterbiev’s previous fight with Markus Braun: Good performance. But I had to make adjustments along the way. We planned to start at a slow pace, because Marcus is fast and a good boxer. They wanted to beat him up first. But after the dissection, everything had to be changed in an instant. We could not afford to waste time, because the referee could stop the fight at any moment. So we had to hurry. In general, they did what they planned – they increased the density and speed of the battle. But I had to do it a little forcing.

On how Beterbiev reacted to the cut: He is always very calm under pressure. But to be honest, in the corner I saw that he was just damn angry. But you know… It was such controlled anger. That is, he wound up, but continued to carefully listen to the clues in the corner. I told him so: “We will take care of the cut, and you take care of the work in the ring.” You know, if everyone is doing their own work, then everything will be a bundle. We said to just follow the chosen strategy. He did just that.

On why the Smith fight dragged on: I do not even know. Negotiations started several times, but never reached substantive talks, only preliminary talks. As soon as something more detailed started, we were ordered to fight Brown, and Smith had a fight with Steve Jeffrard. So it’s all about the negotiations.

About Joe Smith: There has been a lot of talk about him lately. But how else? This is the world champion. And he took his title for a reason. Everyone knows that he is physically strong, with an excellent punch and he definitely has balls. He also knows how to box. So this is a completely balanced fighter that we have a lot of respect for. This fight is not a private matter. We just need all the titles. And one of them is in his hands.

On Smith’s victory over Eleider Alvarez, who was also coached by Ramsey: To be honest, I wasn’t even particularly surprised. We knew that he would have his traditional “Plan A” for the fight. The problem is that Alvarez did not have a normal preparation for the fight. Even then, for the first time, I started talking to him about hanging gloves on a nail. You know, it’s not good when you start training camp with moments like this… Especially if there’s a fight of this magnitude ahead. I don’t think Smith showed anything special in that fight. He was the same Joe Smith he always was.

On Smith’s greatest strengths: He exerts good pressure. But to be honest, he does the same thing in every fight. Not that it is absolutely boilerplate and readable. But Joe Smith is Joe Smith. Classic boxing. Nothing new. Constant pressure. Excellent power. Huge balls. He does what he can do. And he does it at a good level. If he has everything in a beam, then he is very effective in his boxing. I respect his skills, but still, Beterbiev is on a different level in terms of boxing.

On the knockdown that Beterbiev had in a fight with Callum Johnson: This is professional boxing. Here everyone passes sooner or later. He was caught with a great blow. He was on the floor. He returned to the corner, and we explained to him that you should not go down to the opponent’s level. That you just need to outbox the opponent. We asked to focus on good quality boxing. That’s all. He immediately returned to the fight. Everything is simple.

On whether he felt the power of his opponent in that episode: It was a good hit. And when he fell, he was a little shaken. But you know Arthur. He’s in great functional shape, with great legs, great stamina and all that. Again, this is professional boxing. It happens. Much more important is how you react to such moments.

On where the training for Smith took place: Artur always first goes through the preparatory period in the highlands in Russia. He trained there, and then came to me for an 8-week training camp.

About sparring partners: There were six. But I will not name names, otherwise it will be clear what type of battle we are planning. The sparring was just great. I can only say that these are guys with good ratings, excellent boxers. I am very glad. Moreover, for the duel with Brown, we had problems with sparring due to covid restrictions in Canada. It was very difficult to invite quality sparring partners to visit if they were not from Canada. This time it was much easier. And sparring this time was on a completely different level.

About the arena debut MSG: Arthur is very stable emotionally. He is not one of those who will not be able to sleep, who will have some kind of overexcitation there or will feel increased pressure. He is stable. But the fight’s MSG it’s still a special moment. It’s a big fight and I see him working with even more enthusiasm. He understands that we are close to our goal – ahead is a chance to win another title. On the eve of such fights, it often happens that fighters give their best than usual.

On the strengths of Beterbiev: Do you know what it’s like to train Arthur? He’s a great boxer, but he can also do absolutely anything. And to box, and to press, and to arrange a mahach. And we have already tried all the options in the ring. I remember in the fight with Tavoris Cloud, who is also known for his pressure and power, we did not do what he expected us to do. Everyone thought there would be a lot of movement. But we just decided that we are much stronger physically and defensively. It was like trying to fight fire with fire. Well, you know what they say, they knock out a wedge with a wedge. And after the first round, we realized that Cloud had nothing more to offer. He was simply devastated, there was no fuel left in his gas tank. It was too much for him. We beat Tavoris on his own territory. That is, Arthur can offer this to his opponents, but he can also box. He has many options, because he is an absolutely fully developed fighter.

On the meaning of the upcoming fight for the coach: Very important. Both fighters and coaches constantly motivate themselves. They are constantly looking for new challenges. I had world champions, but now I have a new level. I have a unified champion now. And we want to make sure that we don’t stop at two belts. And we need not only a third, but maybe a fourth title. This is what the goal is. This is what helps with motivation for both – both the fighter and the coach.

Yesterday, promoter Eddie Hearn said that there is a clear favorite in a potential fight between Bivol and Beterbiev. Meanwhile, Smith is making plans for the future: Bivol or Canelo are next, right after Beterbiev.

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