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Beterbiev ordered by IBF to defend against Marcus Browne

Artur Beterbiev

By Jim Dower: IBF World light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs) has been ordered by the International Boxing Federation to defend against #3 IBF Marcus Browne (21-0, 16 KOs).

There’s a purse bid that will take place in a few days if the management for Beterbiev and Browne are unable to come to an agreement on a deal for the fight.

What’s unknown is whether Browne will agree to the Beterbiev fight. The 2012 U.S Olympian Browne is also ranked #1 with the World Boxing Organization. Browne is in position to be WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev’s next mandatory challenger.

Browne and his management need to decide whether he stands a better chance of beating the 34-year-old Kovalev and making more money facing him than he would in the 33-year-old Beterbiev. It would be in Kovalev’s best interest in Browne chooses to face Beterbiev, because he’s more of a threat to beating him than #2 WBO Anthony Yarde.

If Browne agrees to fight Beterbiev, then Yarde will slide up to #1 in the WBO’s ranking, and Kovalev will likely have another mismatch on his hands similar to his fight against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.

Yarde doesn’t have a great chin, and he’s very easy to hit. Yarde is not ready to fight a guy like Kovalev, and it would a bad time for him to take that fight now. If Yarde turns down the fight with Kovalev, he’ll lose the No.1 ranking with the WBO. The WBO is not going to keep Yarde at the top of their rankings if he rejects an ordered title shot against Kovalev.

The 27-year-old Browne has looked very good lately beating these fighters in his last 3 fights:

• Francy Ntetu – TKO 1

• Sean Monaghan – TKO 2

• Thomas Williams Jr. – KO 6

Browne looks like he’s improved since winning a controversial 8 round split decision victory over Radivoje Kalajdzic in April 2016. Browne was knocked down in the 6th round of that fight, and he was battered in the last 2 rounds. The victory for Browne over Kalajdzic was considered by many boxing fans an old-fashioned hometown decision for him, as the fight took place in his home city of New York. Browne has looked better in his last 3 fights, but against lesser fighters than Kalajdzic.

Browne might not have a lot of time before he faces Beterbiev, as he’s supposed to be fighting in April. Beterbiev signed with Top Rank recently, and they want to get him in action as soon as possible.

Beterbiev last fought in November beating Enrico Koelling by a 12th round knockout to capture the vacant IBF light heavyweight title in Fresno, California. Before that fight, Beterbiev had been out of the ring for 11 months since his 1st round knockout win over Isidro Prieto in December 2016. Beterbiev has had promotional and injury problems that has limited his activity inside the ring. It’s hoped that now that Beterbiev is with Top Rank, they’ll keep him busy.

Two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev might have too much punching power, boxing skills and amateur experience for Browne to deal with. Browne looks good against guys that he can take out quickly, but when he gets hit back hard, as we saw in his fight against Kalajdzic, he falls apart. If Browne doesn’t pull out of the fight, then Beterbiev would have to be seen as a clear favorite to win by knockout. Browne isn’t he kind of talent to beat a fighter like Beterbiev.

It’s hard to picture Browne agreeing to fight Beterbiev. I think it’s more likely than not that Browne will reject the fight with Beterbiev and stay in position to challenge the more vulnerable Kovalev for his WBO title. Kovalev was exposed by Andre Ward as having poor stamina and no ability to take body shots. Browne would have a chance of wearing Kovalev down if he can into the later rounds of the contest.

It’s doubtful that Browne would be foolish enough to mix it up with Kovalev in the first half of the fight, because that would be an insane move on his part. Kovalev hits too hard and Browne’s chin is too fragile. If Browne goes right at Kovalev in the first two rounds, he’ll likely get stopped quickly.

Browne would have been knocked out by Kalajdzic if that fight had been a 12 rounder rather than an 8 round affair. It was very fortunate for Browne that he only had to go 8 rounds. Kovalev is a bigger puncher than Kalajdzic. The shots that he’ll be hitting Browne with will give him a lot of problems if he gets it in the early going before Kovalev starts gassing out.

Beterbiev has a lot of talent, but his career has not taken off due to him not being kept busy. Beterbiev beat Kovalev twice in the amateur ranks when the two of them were in Russia. A fight between those two would be excellent. That’s the fight that a lot of hardcore boxing fans would love to see if the two of them can hold onto their titles long enough for the unification match to be made.

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