Russian light heavyweight hopeful Imam Khataev has been branded the next Artur Beterbiev. 

Khataev (6-0, 6 KOs) claimed a bronze medal for Russia at the Tokyo Olympic Games that took place in 2021. He turned professional following a semi-final defeat to Great Britain’s Ben Whittaker, and has found himself under the guidance of Camille Estephan’s Montreal based Eye of the Tiger.

“Imam Khataev, we are very excited about,” Estephan said exclusively to BoxingScene. “He’s fighting on the undercard of Vasiliy Lomachenko Vs George Kambosos in Australia. 

“Him and Ben Whittaker fought each other twice in the amateurs and both won a fight each. I say this very humbly, God always. We are very lucky to have the fanbase that we do in Canada, the support of our media and our sponsors. It’s the machine around bringing these fighters to the top. Then it is up to them, winning the fight is not in our hands. But we give them every chance. I think Imam Khataev can be the next big thing.”

Khataev has seen his last three fights take place in Canada. The most recent, a second round knockout over the little-known Michal Ludwiczak on the Beterbiev-Callum Smith undercard in January. The 29 year old goes up against the experienced Latvian Ricards Bolotniks in his next test in the country he now resides in Perth on May 12. 

“It’s a big step up,” Estephan explained. “Bolotniks is an all-star gatekeeper, I would say. We will see what happens. I’m sure he will have a lot to prove in that fight. We want to show people the upside of Khataev. I’m very confident, he’s a very serious guy. He has an amazing coach, they are extremely focused together and they will seek and destroy. 

“He’s ready now. We will look to fast-track him.”

Estephan acquired Khataev alongside a host of international fighters with extensive amateur schooling that are expected to win world titles. Eye of the Tiger’s far-reaching stable tends to build their experience on the ever increasing Canadian boxing schedule.

“We have built everything brick by brick, piece by piece,” Estephan added. “We have built a following, a client base that is extremely loyal. They are committed to the roster that we are building, they are aware of the vision. We have done a lot of things to make sure people are engaged in the story of the athletes, the story of the team and the story of the roster. We had over 10,000 come through the door in Quebec City as you saw, and they were on their feet for two fighters they didn’t even know, it was the quality of the fight. They know their boxing.

“When you start to move fighters along the rankings and they get big opportunities, fighters take notice and start knocking on your door. It’s turned into us pursuing people to sign with us into people now coming to sign with us. Hence the quality of athletes we have signed in recent years. Jhon Orobio, Imam Khataev, Osleys Iglesias, obviously Christian Mbilli, [Arslanbek] Makhmudov, Erik Bazinyan. Steve Claggett is with us, which is a great story. On the women’s side we have Mary Spencer, too.”