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Artur Beterbiev signs with Top Rank

Artur Beterbiev

By Mike Smith: Top Rank has signed IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs) to a contract, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN. They haven’t made a formal announcement of signing the deal with the 2-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev, but they’re looking to put together a contract for the 34-year-old’s next title defense against #11 IBF Sullivan Barrera (22-2, 14 KOs) for a fight on ESPN.

After being out of the ring for 11 months after capturing the vacant International Boxing Federation 175 lb title in November 2017 in stopping Enrico Koelling in the 12th round, Beterbieve returned to the ring and stopped previously unbeaten Callum Johnson (17-1, 12 KOs) in the fourth round in an exciting fight last October. Beterbiev was knocked down by Johnson in the second round, but he came back and flattened Johnson in the fourth round to get a stoppage.

Adding Beterbiev to their stable will give Top Rank two world champions at light heavyweight. They also promote WBC 175 lb champion Oleksander Gvozdyk, who recently defeated Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson by an 11th round knockout in December 2018 to end his 5 year reign as the World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion. It’s unclear whether Top Rank will look to get up a unification fight between Beterbiev and Gvozdyk. If they do that, then they’ll set up one guy as popular fighter. However, it could backfire on Top Rank if Gvozdyk beats Beterbiev, and then winds up losing to unbeaten 2012 U.S Olympian Marcus Browne. The American is coming off of an impressive win over Badou Jack, and he might be good enough to beat Gvozdyk and Beterbiev.

Beterbiev needs to be more active than he’s been with his career. He’s fought only twice in the last two years due to injury and promotional problems. The inactivity has kept Beterbiev from being the star that he could be if he were busier with his career. Ideally, Beterbiev should be fighting at least 2 to 3 times per year in order to get the most out of his career.

Barrera, 36, has twice in the last three years in defeats against WBA world light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol and Andre Ward. Bivol stopped Barrera in the 12th round last March in a competitive fight. Barrera didn’t fight well in the beginning, but he came on in the second half of the contest when Bivol tired. In the 12th, Bivol suddenly came to live and hurt a very tired looking Barrera and stopped him. After that defeat, Barrera came back to defeat Sean Monaghan by a 10 round unanimous decision last November in a good performance. Barrera defeated Joe Smith Jr. by a 10 round unanimous decision in November 2017. Barrera was down in the first round, but he got up and took over the fight and won a 10 round decision.

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