World boxing champion speaks on Kadyrov support
The Chechen leader has supported Artur Beterbiev throughout his career
IBF, WBC, and WBO light heavyweight boxing champion Artur Beterbiev has shed light on the support he has received from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
The 37-year-old is fresh off arguably the most impressive win of his career at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York earlier this month.
In front of the American’s hometown crowd, Beterbiev needed just two rounds to demolish Joe Smith Jr and take his WBO belt off him while extending a 100% finish rate across his 18-0 career.
In a lengthy interview with Championat in Russia, Beterbiev was asked about the support from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, which remains strong despite Beterbiev moving to Montreal in Canada a decade ago.
Asked how their friendship started, Beterbiev explained that Kadyrov – who also backs UFC contender Khamzat Chimaev – spotted him at a youth amateur tournament in the Chechen town of Gudermes while Kadyrov was already associated with the boxing federation.
After Beterbiev won the tournament with “three or four” early finishes, Kadyrov approached him and said: “You will become an Olympic champion, I see potential in you.”
Though Kadyrov’s prediction for Beterbiev at the summer athletics spectacle didn’t prove true after he lost to eventual local boxer Zhang Xiaoping in the round of 16 at Beijing 2008, Kadyrov was proved correct that Beterbiev had the talent to reach the elite.
“I remember how he said when I was still young: ‘Artur, I will help you with everything I can, but you must box in the ring’,” Beterbiev reminisced.
“These are very correct words, I think. So I try to box. Much has changed since then, but he has remained the same sympathetic person who can receive you at any time, although he now has a very serious status in terms of authority…
“He can help, and support at the right time. He loves sports, he is very supportive of our guys, especially for those who represent the Chechen Republic,” Beterbiev went on.
“And, probably, it is no secret that he supports and helps athletes from other cities and republics. [He] encourages them, gives them expensive gifts, cars. I can say without flattery that not a single head of a republic does this,” Beterbiev added.
Fighting with the Canadian flag in his last outing despite Russian fighters being able to perform under neutral status at present, Beterbiev revealed how he also talked to Kadyrov about the situation as the Russian Boxing Federation and the leadership of the Chechen Republic were always kept up to date.
Beterbiev asked them what to do, and said that both parties were supportive of him while advising him not to “get into politics”.
“The main thing is to win,” Beterbiev stressed. “I was pleasantly surprised that I was so supported.”
“They could turn around and say something. But armchair experts talk a lot.”
Beterbiev confirmed that the Russian Boxing Federation and its head Umar Kremlev recently gave him a BMW, which he thinks “will come in handy”.
“It is very nice when such attention from people from the boxing federation is encouraged,” he added.
Asked who he would like to fight next, Beterbiev said that an all-Russian showdown with WBA champion Dmitry Bivol to crown the four-belt era’s first ever undisputed light heavyweight king is a “priority”.
But it cannot be made unless there is a willingness to make it happen from both corners.
“Today this question is open, it can be solved at any time, if only there is a desire,” he pointed out.
“I have it. On the other side – you have to look. I’ve had unification fights twice already. They wouldn’t have happened if the other side didn’t want to box with me. They took a risk, and that’s how these fights turned out. [It’s the] same here. If someone really wants it, it will happen,” Beterbiev went on.
Before being able to face Bivol, Beterbiev might have to take on mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde in London, however.