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Beterbiev wants Bivol, Kovalev or Stevenson

By Allan Fox: IBF heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) says he’ll be looking to fight a unification match soon against the likes of Adonis Stevenson, Dmitry Bivol and possibly Sergey Kovalev if he captures the vacant WBO 175lb. title this Saturday.

Beterbiev, 32, won the vacant IBF light heavyweight title last week in beating Enrico Koelling by a 12th round knockout in Fresno, California. Beterbiev now wants to go after

“I’m ready to take on anyone,” Beterbiev said to ”If we move towards a unification, I have no preference between Dmitry Bivol, Sergey Kovalev or Adonis Stevenson. My goal is to unify all titles,” said Beterbiev.

Beterbiev could be fighting Oleksandr Gvozdyk soon, as he’s the highest ranked contender in the International Boxing Federation’s top 15. Unification fights are given priority by the sanctioning bodies. If Beterbiev can get one of the champions to agree to fight him next, then he won’t need to fight Gvozdyk right away.

Adonis Stevenson might be the toughest of the fighters that Beterbiev mentioned, but he’s shown very little ambition to fight the best in the division. Given the mostly mediocre opposition Stevenson has faced since he won his WBC title in 2013, it’s improbable to assume that he’ll break from that mold and take on a dangerous guy like Beterbiev.

Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) is looking very hard to beat after his 1st round knockout win this month against Trent Broadhurst on November 4. That was the 26-year-old Bivol’s first defense of his WBA World light heavyweight title. It’s still unclear whether Bivol is as good as he’s been looking recently, because he’s not faced a true world class opponent yet. Broadhurst more fringe contender than a true talent. Beterbiev would have to show a lot more against Bivol than he did in his fight with Koelling if he wants to beat him.

Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) will be fighting this coming Saturday night on HBO Boxing against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) at Madison Square Garden in New York. If Kovalev wins the belt, then he’ll certainly be a great option for Beterbiev to go after for a unification fight. Beterbiev twice beat Kovalev in the amateur ranks when the two were fighting in Russia.

“He talks a lot, but it’s not my style,” said Beterbiev about Kovalev. ”I do not hate him. I respect the athlete for what he has accomplished, but I cannot rate him as anyone.”

It’s surprising how Kovalev has gone from being perceived by the boxing world as the No.1 fighter at 175 to a fighter that isn’t rated by Beterbiev and by a lot of fans. For Kovalev to become the guy that he was before, he’ll need to look sharp against Shabranskyy on Saturday. He’ll also need to unify the division against the champions that are willing to fight him. Kovalev has looked vulnerable in his last 2 fights against Andre Ward, both of which he lost. Kovalev’s stamina and ability to take body shots are his best problem. Beterbiev would be sure to try and take advantage of those problems.

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