KO King: Artur Beterbiev’s Greatest Hits are short and not so sweet

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Artur Beterbiev has never experienced the feeling that he’s currently speaking of. “I go until the ref says ‘stop’ or the other person is on the floor and doesn’t get up,” he explains through an interpreter. “Or else I don’t feel that I finished the fight.”

Artur Beterbiev hammering Gabriel Campillo

Artur Beterbiev hammering Gabriel Campillo

Artur Beterbiev is nothing if not a closer—he’s like a shirtless, Russian Dennis Eckersley, hurling his fists in place of fastballs.

All eight of Beterbiev's pro fights have ended in knockout wins for the fast rising 175-pounder, and none have gone past the fourth round.

As Beterbiev gets ready to fight Alexander Johnson at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion on Friday, which airs on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET/PT, he counts down his Greatest Hits.

3 vs Rayco Saunders, September 28, 2013, at the Bell Centre in Montreal

It’s impossible to watch this savage drubbing within arm’s reach of a towel and not hurl it at the TV screen in a vain attempt at rescuing Saunders from the beating he took here.

His corner would have done well to save their fighter from himself, but you could understand why they didn’t: Saunders had only been stopped once before and this was after hanging in there with solid pros like Ismayl Sillakh, Isaac Chilemba and Edison Miranda.

None of that would matter against Beterbiev, though. He wrecked Saunders in his second pro fight, knocking Saunders down three times en route to a smashing third-round KO that ended with Saunders flat on his back, looking dazed and dislocated from his own senses, like he’d been hit with a stun gun instead of a man's hands.

“It was the beginning of the transition from amateur to pro,” Beterbiev says. “I had a layoff from boxing for a bit, and I came back. It was important because of that.”

2 vs Tavoris Cloud, September 27, 2014, at the Bell Centre in Montreal

It looked to be a real test on paper.

On canvas, not so much.

Tavoris Cloud, a former 175-pound champion who’d beaten fellow ex-champs Glen Johnson, Clinton Woods and Gabriel Campillo, built a name for himself as a bulldozer-of-a-man who tore through some of his opponents like a runaway cement truck plowing over a sand castle.

But Beterbiev turned the tables on Cloud.

And then he flipped the table over, broke off one of its legs and beat him with it—metaphorically speaking, of course—knocking Cloud down three times in the opening round alone and then finishing the job in Round 2.

“It was a big test for me, the fact that he was an ex-champion,” Beterbiev says. “I wanted to show everyone that I was a good fighter."

1 vs Gabriel Campillo, April 4, 2015, at Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City

You have to imagine what it feels like to have 973 pounds of force delivered to your face at a speed of 21 miles per hour.

Gabriel Campillo does not.

Those are the metrics behind the knockout blow that Beterbiev delivered to Campillo, another former 175-pound champ.

It did take a little longer for Beterbiev to dispatch his opponent this time around, though, as the fight stretched to a whopping four rounds.

“I take every fight seriously, but going into this one, I knew that he had a lot of experience, different tactics,” Beterbiev says. “It was a different experience for me.”

Maybe so, but the outcome was the same.

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