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Beterbiev needs opponent for IBF title eliminator

Bernard HopkinsBy Dan Ambrose: Unbeaten #2 IBF, #3 WBO, #4 WBA, #4 WBC light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev (9-0, 9 KOs) is looking for an opponent for him to fight in an IBF 175lb eliminator. The International Boxing Federation ordered a fight between Beterbiev and 50-year-old Bernard Hopkins for the IBF eliminator, but Hopkins failed to respond by the deadline last Thursday.

The other options aren’t looking very good for Beterbiev. According to Dan Rafael, the next available contender is #1 WBC, #2 WBO, #5 IBF Isaac Chilemba, but he’s not likely to take the fight because he’s ranked No.1 with the World Boxing Council and he’s poised to fight in a WBC eliminator bout against Andrzej Fonfara to try and become the WBC mandatory challenger to WBC champion Adonis Stevenson.

The IBF will now wait for Chilemba to give his answer whether he wants the Beterbiev fight. If not, then they’ll look to ask the following contenders one by one: #7 IBF Sean Monaghan, #8 IBF Jean Pascal, #9 IBF Sullivan Barrera, #10 IBF Edwin Rodriguez, #11 IBF Thomas Williams Jr. and #12 IBF Eleider Alvarez.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the IBF doesn’t get a yes answer from one of those contenders until he gets to the No.9 or No.10 spot. It’s difficult to picture Barrera or Rodriguez turning down a title eliminator against Beterbiev, because these are two very good fighters and they’ll likely see Beterbiev as someone they think they can handle.

Beterbiev, 30, had the opportunity to fight for a world title on November 28th against IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, but Beterbiev’s adviser Al Haymon and promoter Yvon Michel turned down the offer made by Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events. They preferred instead to let Beterbiev fight in an IBF 175lb eliminator so that he could become the No.1 IBF mandatory challenger for Kovalev.

From there, they would look to win a purse bid so that they could promote the fight themselves. Haymon and his people would have a good chance of winning the purse bid unless one of the wealthy Russian promoters took interest in staging the fight in Russia and opted to throw down a huge bid to win the purse bid.

The IBF wasted time in choosing Bernard Hopkins initially to face Beterbiev in the IBF eliminator because there was no way that Hopkins would accept an eliminator with Beterbiev because he’s not well-known, and Hopkins is looking to fight for a world title against WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham.

It’s a better deal for Hopkins to fight the 5’9” Abraham, who he’d have a big size advantage over, and then it would be for him to fight a huge puncher like Beterbiev. Hopkins would have the speed and experience against Beterbiev, but the sure power that Beterbiev would have going for him would cause Hopkins a lot of problems and likely result in him losing again.

Beterbiev is in an excellent position to become the IBF eliminator no matter who he faces for the IBF eliminator. His punching power and talent will give him a big advantage over any competitor that the IBF can dig up to face him.


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