With the start of each new belt era in boxing, it produces more and more world champions. Sometimes dampening the very meaning of the term. In the four-belt era, very few boxers have earned the title of undisputed champion, but we may very well be on the verge of witnessing the first undisputed light-heavyweight champion.
The man currently holding the IBF and WBC belt is of course Artur Beterbiev—a Russian wrecking ball with a perfect record of 17 wins and 17 knockouts. He embodies the word “power.” Beterbiev fights with a ruthless and brutal but calculated style. He is always the aggressor, but his thunderous punches are not wild, they are precise, well-timed, and deadly. Artur has an incredible combination of raw power, innate ability, aggression, and discipline.
Beterbiev is laser-focused on his goal to capture as many belts as he can and leave a mark in history as a great amongst history’s great light heavyweights. Unlike others, he is not one to waste words. Always respectful, Artur’s work and the trail of bodies behind him speak louder than any social media post could.
This article will take a look at how Artur Beterbiev trains to harness his incredible power and use solid boxing skills to transfer it effectively in every fight.
You can watch my video version or continue reading below:
The Monster Training of Artur Beterbiev
Training in combat sports has always been part of Beterbiev’s life as he started boxing at the age of 10 when growing up in Dagestan. He originally started in wrestling but would be kicked out of the gym for fighting and in turn, found boxing. From here he had much success in the Amateurs for Russia, winning European and World championships. He always had the goal of winning the Olympics but would lose out to Usyk in 2012. Having this dream fail Artur left his family and friends and moved to Montreal Canada in 2013 to fulfill his dream of becoming a world champion in professional boxing, but now the aim of becoming undisputed at light heavyweight.
Once moving to Canada, he quickly impressed his future trainer, Marc Ramsay, and conditioning coach, André Kulesza, who later admitted that Beterbiev was the most gifted athlete he’d worked with.
All world champions have an incredible work ethic, but then even amongst them, some manage to go even further. Beterbiev is one of those special people who devote themselves completely to their craft, as his coach Ramsey attests.
“Oh my God. The best I’ve ever seen. But it’s not just about how he is in the gym. Every single decision that guy makes [serves] his professional career. Artur has never drunk alcohol in his life, he never goes to sleep late, and really takes care of his body in terms of food and nutrition. He has no time in his life for anything else apart from his family. Every little thing he does is for his boxing.”Marc Ramsey [source: hannibalboxing.com]
Let’s look at some specifics of his training.
Having that eraser power in his hands, Artur so far has never had to hear the judges’ scorecards read. So, his cardio was never severely tested, but only a few times has got to the later rounds, and he didn’t seem to slow down significantly.
Like any other boxer, Artur does his roadwork diligently and skips rope as a part of his conditioning work. Nothing too fancy, but he can often be seen running and training outside in the freezing Canadian air during the winter.
This no doubt helps him when he has to push that little harder in the fight. Another reason his opponents are usually more tired than Beterbiev is his bullying style and power. His opponent needs to constantly back away, stick and move and try to avoid his monstrous right hand. At the same time, he does not wind up his punches and defends mainly with a tighter high guard. This leaves all of his energy reserves for what he does best. Marching forward and batters up his opponents until they fall.
Beterbiev comes from the classic Soviet school of boxing, which means he has very solid fundamentals. The man from Russia had structured his style from his amateur career and has since fine-tuned it once he turned pro and started training with Ramsey. Here are some of the things you will see him use:
Beterbiev uses the best friend of every boxer for different purposes. He can often be seen training from very close range and hitting long shots from a distance. But where he truly shines in the ring is mid-range. He very often throws short punches that hold immense power. While many fighters have the greatest force at the end of their punches, Beterbiev hits the hardest from a mid-range.
The heavy bag is where Artur maintains and develops a lot of his beastly punching power.
On the pads, Arthur learns and drills his finer combinations and setups. He works with Marc Ramsay or with another coach, but the main architect behind his tactics and game plan is always Ramsey. From what I’ve seen, most of his mitt work is either quick speed-oriented combinations or drilling-specific scenarios.
His punching power often gets all the attention, but in fact, his timing and punch placement are stellar as well. Beterbiev has the technique and eye to deliver that power at the precise moment he needs to. A lot of those details can be observed during his pad training. Which then helps him find different angles and openings come fight night. Check him out in action below:
Unfortunately, there is very little sparring footage of Beterbiev which is something a lot of fighters keep behind closed doors. There has been some footage of him sparring fellow gym mate Jean-Pascal, who looked like he was having a tough time with the Russian. Along with multiple stories and rumors from those that have witnessed these spars.
But if we trust the words of Ramsey, he is a beast in sparring as well. Here is what the coach has to say on the topic.
“I don’t even like to mention the sparring partners because that gives the other team an [idea] of what we want to do in the fight. What I would say is that Beterbiev is like Mike Tyson in the ’80s. We need about seven or eight guys and they need to be strong, healthy, and fresh. To be honest, I don’t have anyone who does more than about eight rounds with Artur. Even in sparring, he drops a lot of guys.”Marc Ramsey [source: hannibalboxing.com]
Reflex ball training and reaction drills
Beterbiev’s perfect timing complements his raw power perfectly. His supreme timing is perfectly demonstrated in his first knockdown of Isidro Prieto.
Aside from pure boxing training, he often uses different exercises to enhance his hand-eye coordination and reaction time. The most basic exercise he uses is reflex ball training, which is very simple but effective.
He also does a lot of ball exercises that are common among many athletes, not just fighters. Coach Ramsey helps him with these, and if we judge by the video footage, he has quite the coordination and reactions.
Check out my article on reaction and reflex drills you can consider for your boxing training.
The Russian will also do a lot of shadow boxing, which no doubt helps him to visualize and perfect his technique so he can land decisive blows on his opponents.
Beterbiev and his team, however, will try to change up from time to time and incorporate ladder drills. This no doubt is to help with his footwork and punch timing in relation to his movement. Which in turn no doubt helps him in-ring when setting up his timely punches.
Strength and conditioning
Beterbiev may have God-given power in his hands, but it still needs a lot of work to be maintained and used. One can argue that a lot of his power comes not from natural ability but from ruthless training.
Beterbiev’s idol Mike Tyson preferred to use mainly only his body weight, but the Russian does not shy away from the big weights. He does Olympic-style lifts, squats, and other compound movements with some impressive weights, further enhancing his strength. So far weight training seems to work for him.
Like Olympic lifts, plyometrics develops explosiveness. Artur does all kinds of explosive push-ups with double claps, using benches, using ab wheels, and other variations that make regular push-ups harder and more beneficial. (Check out my article on exercises to increase punch power here.)
Forearm and wrist training
Punching with such knockout power can heavily compromise the wrists and forearms. So Beterbiev takes good care of them with some interesting exercises. The barbell wrist toss especially is an impressive feat that I doubt many boxers can perform.
Another impressive wrist strengthening exercise he often does is the wrist and knuckle explosive push-ups which have gone viral on social media. Watch below. Apparently, this is done as a warm-up, but if you plan on replicating this I recommend taking your time.
Beterbiev also does a lot of stretching and mobility work to keep his body nimble and avoid injuries, even as he is entering his late 30s. Rubber band exercises improve overall shoulder mobility, and he has used them frequently since his shoulder injury in 2016. Which also kept him out of the ring for nearly a year.
Diet and recovery
As we saw from the quote of coach Ramsey above, Beterbiev is as strict with his diet as he is in the ring. Everything is dialed in to ensure he fuels his body and lets it recover. Sports science is always advancing, and athletes have the luxury of using dietitians and cutting-edge recovery methods to stay in peak condition and prolong their careers.
Despite his discipline, Beterbiev almost had to relinquish his belts after failing to squeeze inside the 175 lb limit by a measly 2 ounces against Marcus Brown in 2021. He did so, however, on the second attempt and managed to stop Brown inside 9 rounds.
As a devout Muslim, Beterbiev does not drink any alcohol, which is great for a fighter. But on the flip side, it’s tough to imagine following the strict rules of the holy month of Ramadan and training with the intensity of a professional boxer, but Artur seems to do it just fine. Here is what he has to say on the matter:
“Everyone asks how I work in Ramadan. Yes, I am posting. I have breakfast before dawn, and about three hours remain before training. Everything is fine, there is energy. Of course, after a workout, it’s a little hard, because you can’t drink water. But it seems to be not bad.”Artur Beterbiev
Artur Beterbiev may appear a bit crude on the surface, but his aggressive style is refined and clinical. A style born from a childhood of violence and molded in the boxing gym now brings devastation to the light heavyweight ranks.
Beterbiev’s success in the ring is a result of many things, but most of all we can attribute it to his tireless work ethic and dedication to the art of boxing. A calm and respectful person outside the ring and a true savage once the bell rings, Beterbiev is someone who few boxing fans would want to miss.
You can also check out more boxing training advice by visiting the link here or related useful articles below:
- Top 10 Exercises To Improve Hand Speed For Boxing
- 10 Exercises To Improve Your Reflexes For Boxing
- Shadow Boxing Exercises For Home Or The Gym
- 10 Exercises To Increase Your Punch Power For Boxing
- Simple Boxing Workout Routines For Home
- 6 Key Boxing Defensive Techniques – Hit And Don’t Get Hit
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