At the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada this Saturday, former IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud (24-2, 19 KO’s) and Artur Beterbiev (5-0) square off in a scheduled 12 round contest for the vacant NABA light heavyweight title. The bout headlines a card being billed as “Red Dawn”.
This is the first step of rebuilding mode for Cloud, who had an unfortunate year in 2013, suffering back to back losses to Bernard Hopkins (L 12) and Adonis Stevenson (RTD by 7). After winning the vacant IBF light heavyweight title in 2009 with a decision over Clinton Woods, he made four successful defenses before losing the belt to Hopkins. A win over Stevenson would have earned him the WBC crown, but he fell victim, as many of Stevenson’s opponents have, to an early exit in what was a one sided bout all along with Stevenson wining every round before the stoppage.
With just five pro bouts to his (pro) name, Beterbiev is the latest in amateur standouts to take the fast path to the upper levels of pro competition. Originally from Russia and now making his home in Montreal, he represented Russia in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and took home the 2006 European Championship as well as a gold medal in the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships as a heavyweight.
Cloud has the obvious advantage in experience; he’s been in with some of the top fighters in the division. A heavy handed fighter with as good jab, he has shown himself to be limited against mobile opponents, as evidenced by his controversial win over Gabriel Campillo and his contest with Bernard Hopkins. Beterbiev is taking a big step up facing a boxer of Clouds caliber, but what he lacks in pro experience he makes up for in boxing skill. His longest bout thus far has lasted just four rounds, so how he reacts as the contest moves into the middle and late rounds where Cloud has been many times before could be the determining factor here.
In an accompanying 12 round bout, Dierry Jean (26-1, 18 KO’s) defends the NABF lightweight title against Daniel Ruiz (32-7-2, 22 KO’s). After holding the NABF and NABA titles as a light welterweight, Jean came down a division after a loss to IBF light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson earlier this year.
Antonin Decarie (30-2, 9 KO’s) and Ivan Pereyra (19-3, 13 KO’s) face off in a 10 round bout. Decaire, the former NABF welterweight title holder, comes in on a three fight winning streak after a 10 round loss to Luis Carlos Abregu last year. Pereyra was stopped by Silverio Ortiz.
Welterweight Kevin Bizier (22-1, 15 KO’s) and middleweight Stephane Ouellet (29-5, 18 KO’s) also appear on the card.