Russia's Artur Beterbiev, in his first bout in 17 months, knocked out Adam Deines in the 10th round to retain his WBC and IBF light heavyweight world titles Saturday at Megasport Arena in Moscow.
Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs) authored a fitting encore to his October 2019 TKO over Oleksandr Gvozdyk, the bout that solidified his place as the world's best light heavyweight.
Three fight dates - one against Meng Fanlong and two against Deines - were postponed before Beterbiev finally returned to the ring.
Beterbiev maintained his status as boxing's only world champion with a 100 percent knockout rate, returning home to the nation he represented at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
At 36 years old, it appears "King Artur" still has plenty of time left to reign.
Beterbiev clipped Deines (19-2-1, 10 KOs) with a left hook in the opening round, knocking the German to the canvas. The steady pressure of Beterbiev wore down Deines, who was in retreat mode for most of the fight.
Then, in the 10th round, a sledgehammer left hook put Deines down again. Deines' corner stopped the slaughter, and the crowd got the knockout they so craved.
Who next for Beterbiev?
Beterbiev now has his sights on a potential unification matchup with the winner of the April 10 vacant WBO light heavyweight world title showdown between Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov, which will air live on ESPN and ESPN+.
However, there remains one fight he would take in a heartbeat, like every fighter from middleweight to light heavyweight - Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.
The Mexican - a four-division world champion - has fought once at light heavyweight, defeating a faded Sergey Kovalev in 2019 to win the WBO title.
Since then, he has vacated the belt and won the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles against Callum Smith before making light work of Avni Yildirim to retain them.
The 30-year-old is aiming to cement his legacy by becoming the division's first undisputed champion.
With that in mind, any potential fight with Beterbiev would have to wait until 2022 but with the Russian approaching 37 years old, it may be a fight which interests Canelo next year