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Artur Beterbiev vs. Igor Mikhalkin possible for November 28th

LatestBy Allan Fox: It looks like the International Boxing Federation (IBF) made a mistake when they were looking for an opponent for #2 IBF Artur Beterbiev (9-0, 9 KOs) for his IBF light heavyweight eliminator bout on the undercard of the Lucian Bute vs. James DeGale card on November 28th Quebec City.


Initially, instead of picking out No.13 IBF Igor Mikhalkin (17-1, 9 KOs), as the IBF should have done, they skipped him and instead selected No.14 IBF Karo Murat as the opponent for Beterbiev to fight on November 28th. It was only later that the IBF became aware that they had skipped the higher ranked #13 Mikhalkin in selecting an opponent for Beterbiev.

Mikhalkin has accepted the fight with Beterbiev, and negotiations are expected to move ahead.

If the two fighters’ management is unable to come to an agreement then it will go to a purse bid.

As for the lower ranked #14 IBF Karo Murat, he appears to be out of luck as far as him being able to participate in the IBF eliminator against Beterbiev. But perhaps it’s just as well, because Murat would have been a long shot to win anyway because he doesn’t have the same kind of size and punching power that Beterbiev has going for him.

“Seems that Mikhalkin [was] overlooked when Murat was selected,” Beterbiev;’s promoter Yvon Michel said to ESPN.com. “But the Russian had priority because of his ranking. The IBF made the proper correction. If we don’t come to an agreement, there will be a purse bid on Oct. 20, but I already spoke to his manager, Erol Ceylan, and I believe we will come to a negotiated deal,” Michel said.

The 31-year-old Mikhalkin has fought mostly lower level opposition his entire eight-year pro career. The best opponent that Mikhalkin has faced thus far is Aleksy Kuziemski, who beat him by an 8 round unanimous decision in 2008.

Beterbiev’s promoter had little luck in initially trying to get an opponent to face him. #11 IBF Sullivan Barrera agreed to fight Beterbiev, but then he couldn’t take the fight due to visa issues. Yunieski Gonzalez turned down the fight.

Beterbiev is a two-time Russian Olympian, who holds two victories over Sergey Kovalev in the amateurs in their native Russia. If Beterbiev defeats Mikhalkin in the IBF light heavyweight eliminator bout, then he’ll become the IBF 175lb mandatory challenger to Kovalev.

This will set up an interesting fight where Kovalev will have the opportunity to try and avenge his two defeats from earlier in his career. Kovalev has improved since his amateur days, but then again so has Beterbiev. It could be a really tough fight for Kovalev if Beterbiev is able to turn the fight into a war. Kovalev has the better jab by far, and he’ll be fine when he’s on the outside, but he could have problems when Beterbiev is able to take the action to close to medium range.


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