Tavoris Cloud vs. Artur Beterbiev: Preview and Prediction for Upcoming Fight

Briggs Seekins@BriggsfighttalkFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2014

Tavoris Cloud vs. Artur Beterbiev: Preview and Prediction for Upcoming Fight

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    USA TODAY Sports

    On Saturday night, former IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud returns to Montreal to face rising prospect Artur Beterbiev in the former amateur star's adopted hometown. 

    The last time Cloud traveled to Canada, he was thoroughly trounced and stopped in Round 7 by WBC champion Adonis Stevenson. Beterbiev has a far smaller reputation than Stevenson at this point, but he might have more boxing talent. 

    The winner of this bout will take an important step forward at 175 pounds. 

Tale of the Tape

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    USA TODAY Sports
    Per Boxrec     Tavoris Cloud     Artur Beterbiev
    Record:     24-2, 19 KOs     5-0, 5 KOs
    Height:     5'10"     6'.05"
    Reach:     74"     Unlisted
    Weight:     175 lbs          175 lbs
    Age:     32     29
    Stance:     Orthodox     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Tallahassee, Florida     Montreal, Quebec
    Rounds:     130     11

    Tavoris Cloud is a former world champion and has far more professional experience than Artur Beterbiev, but Beterbiev was an elite amateur who represented Russia twice in the Olympics. He competed as a heavyweight at the end of his amateur career. 

    Like stars Adonis Stevenson, Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal, Beterbiev has found a welcoming environment in fight-mad Montreal. 

Main Storylines

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Tavoris Cloud is the former world champion in this one and the more familiar name to many boxing fans, but Artur Beterbiev just might be the bigger story. 

    Beterbiev was an amateur world champion in 2009 and a World Cup champ in 2010. He is a two-time European champion and represented Russia twice in the Olympics. He's a native of the Republic of Dagestan, which produces more elite amateur wrestlers, world-class boxers and MMA fighters per capita than any other region of the planet. 

    He's made a smart move to settle in Montreal, a major North American city where the population loves fighting sports. 

    Cloud is a big puncher with a lot of experience. There's no question that he represents a major step up for Beterbiev. But it's become fairly common in recent years for Cuban and Eastern European amateur stars to skyrocket up the professional ranks. 

    Beterbiev's first five fights have averaged just two rounds. He's crushed everybody he's faced and proved all he can at the prospect level. 

    At 29, it's time for him to step up and face contenders. A win over a former world champion like Cloud will put him on the map. 

Strengths

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Tavoris Cloud is an athletic fighter with punching power. His straight right is a big punch, and he sets it up well with his jab. At 32, he's been in the ring with some of the best professional light heavyweights of his generation.

    Artur Beterbiev is an outstanding technical fighter with big power. He fought at heavyweight at the end of his amateur career and is big at light heavyweight.

    Beterbiev controls range extremely well and throws a good variety of combinations. He covers up well and uses good head movement, but his best defensive attribute might be his sense of distance. Like most amateur standouts, he excels at keeping himself out of position to get hit until he's ready to launch his own attack. 

Weaknesses

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    Tavoris Cloud struggles against fighters who move well. He's easy to turn and to walk into counter shots. He tends to move in predictable patterns and follow an opponent rather than cutting off the ring. 

    Artur Beterbiev has looked like a future champion in his first five professional fights. But that was against low-level competition. Against a fighter with world-class power and experience, he's a question mark, regardless of his potential. 

Tavoris Cloud Will Win If...

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    Tavoris Cloud enters this fight on a two-fight losing streak. And in my opinion, he got a gift decision against Gabriel Campillo in February 2012. He could easily be 0-3 in his last three fights. 

    It's been a few years since Cloud has looked truly impressive. To get back on track here, he'll need to start by establishing a good jab.

    If he gives a technical fighter like Artur Beterbiev time and space to study him, he'll be in trouble. So he needs to pump a stiff jab and step into good position to follow up with either the lead hook or the straight right.

    He has to put smart pressure on the former amateur star and make him taste true, world-class professional power. But he can't be overaggressive and take too much punishment, too soon, in this fight.

    His goal has to be to take the inexperienced Beterbiev into the later rounds. Cloud has to drag him into the deep waters and see if he can swim.

Artur Beterbiev Will Win If...

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    This is a major step up in competition for Artur Beterbiev. He's going from six-round fights to facing a former world champion for a minor belt. 

    Still, Tavoris Cloud is a well-picked opponent for a move like this. The ex-IBF champion has struggled against fighters with Beterbiev's skill set. 

    Beterbiev should slip Cloud's jab and counter over the top of it with his straight right hand. Bernard Hopkins had a lot of success against Cloud with this same move. 

    Beterbiev also needs to use movement to turn Cloud and walk him into punches. Beterbiev needs to frustrate Cloud and get him to attack when he's not really in range.

    If Beterbiev can get Cloud lunging and off balance, he should look to catch him with uppercuts and hooks. He should look to punish Cloud early and often and see if he can't end the fight quickly.  

Prediction

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    It makes me feel just a little bit reckless to pick a boxer with just five fights to beat a former champion with Tavoris Cloud's experience. But as former amateur stars like Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux have shown in recent years, sometimes years of elite amateur experience can make up for a lot of six-round preliminary bouts. 

    I haven't been impressed by Cloud since he beat Glen Johnson in 2010. He's lost his last two fights, and on my scorecard, he's lost his last three. Against Adonis Stevenson last September, he was pounded. 

    Artur Beterbiev has the skill and power to beat him, regardless of experience. I think he'll do just that, stopping Cloud in 10. 

    The light heavyweight division has been red hot this year and last. Beterbiev should become another exciting name in the mix.