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Artur Beterbiev having problems finding opponent

Artur Beterbiev

By Allan Fox: Four months after capturing the vacant IBF World light heavyweight title, Artur Beterbiev is still without an opponent for his first title defense. Beterbiev’s highest ranked contender Marcus Browne chose to go after WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev next.

The next six contenders in the International Boxing Federation’s rankings have reportedly shown no interest in facing Beterbiev. Those fighters are as follows: Anthony Yarde, Juergen Braehmer, and Dominic Boesel.

With none of the contenders rated in the top 8 having accepted the offer to face Beterbiev, the next guy that is being given the call is #9 IBF Meng Fanlong (12-0, 7 KOs). He’s a 2012 Olympia from China with a decent record. Fanlong has wins over Daniel Judah and Brad Austin. Most of the guys Fanlong has beaten are little known fighters with poor records. Fanlong is with Roc Nation. It’ll be interesting to see if he accepts the fight with Beterbiev.

If Fanlong chooses not to take the fight with Beterbiev, then the next available contender is #10 IBF Enrico Koelling. That’s the guy Beterbiev beat to win the vacant IBF title last November in stopping him in the 12th. That wouldn’t look good if Beterbiev’s first defense was against Koelling. I imagine the IBF will skip past Koelling when they look to find someone that will agree to fight Beterbiev.

#11 IBF is Karo Murat (32-3-1, 21 KOs), who has won his last 5 fights since being stopped in the 5th round by Sullivan Barrera in December 2015. Murat stopped previously unbeaten Dominic Boesel (27-1, 10 KOs) in the 11th round last July in an impressive win. In Murat’s last fight, he stopped #8 IBF Travis Reeves in the 12th round last Saturday night in Germany. With Braehmer and Yarde showing no interest in facing Beterbiev, Murat might be the best option for him to defend his IBF title against next if he’ll take the fight.

It’s surprising that #7 IBF Anthony Yarde (15-0, 14 KOs) isn’t accepting to face Beterbiev, because he’s been looking good in his fights in knocking out 14 of his 15 opponents. Yarde, 26, seems to be waiting for some reason before he takes on one of the champions. Besides being ranked highly with the IBF, Yarde is also rated #2 by the World Boxing Organization. That might be the title that Yarde will eventually go after. Yarde has good punching power, but his defensive skills could be a problem for him if he were to face Beterbiev. In Yarde’s last fight, he looks vulnerable in beating journeyman Tony Averlant last February. Yarde stopped Averlant in the 7th round, but he was hit with some major shots. Yarde made Averlant look like a bigger puncher than he is.

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