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Artur Beterbiev vs. Radivoje Kalajdzic on May 4 on ESPN in Stockton, CA

Artur Beterbiev

By Jeff Aranow: IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev will be making his next defense of his title against #13 IBF Radivoje ‘Hot Rod’ Kalajdzic on Top Rank Boxing on ESPN at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum has sent out the contract, and it’s a done deal, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.

Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs) was supposed to be fighting Sven Fornling, but Top Rank changed him out for Kalajdzic (24-1, 17 KOs) for an unknown reason. This is a better option in terms of entertainment value. Kalajdzic is a slugger with excellent power, who gave unbeaten 2012 U.S Olympian Marcus Browne (23-0, 16 KOs) all he could handle in losing a controversial eight round split decision three years ago in April 2016.

The hardcore boxing fans in the States will have remembered the Browne vs. Kalajdzic fight, and they’ll be eager to see Beterbiev take on “Hot Rod” on May 4. But a larger percentage of fans won’t know who he is, and they won’t be as excited at seeing this fight, especially given that DAZN will have a huge card that they’ll be showing on the same night.

After getting dropped in the first round by Browne, Kalajdzic came back to return the fight in knocking him down in the sixth round. Kalajdzic dominated the second half of the fight, and appeared to do enough to deserve the win, but the judges gave it to Browne. Many of the boxing fans that saw the fight were unhappy with the results, believing that Kalajdzic had deserved the win.

There was never a rematch between them. Browne recently defeated former two division world champion Badou Jack by a 12 round unanimous decision last January to capture the interim World Boxing Association light heavyweight title.

This will be the 34-year-old Beterbiev’s first fight with Top Rank Boxing since inking with them. They’re giving him a tough opponent in Radivoje, who a lot better than the low ranking the International Boxing Federation has given him.

Top Rank’s decision to put the Beterbiev-Kalajdzic fight on May 4 means that it’ll be competing with the arguably much bigger fight between WBA/WBC middleweight champion Saul Canelo Alvarez and IBF champion Daniel Jacobs on DAZN. As long as Top Rank puts Beterbiev vs. Kalajdzic on regular ESPN, it might be okay, but it they put this fight on the ESPN+ app on May 4, it probably won’t bring in good ratings. Canelo is a very popular fighter, and there will be a lot of interest from boxing fans in the U.S to see him and Jacobs fight rather than watching Beterbiev vs Kalajdzic. That’s an excellent fight, but neither of them are well known by the casual boxing fans, and they’re not going to be know anytime soon. A better date for the Beterbiev fight would be May 11. There’s nothing going on in terms of big fights on that date. A lot of boxing fans will still be tuning in to see Beterbiev-Kalajdzic fight each other on that night, because it’s on ESPN. DAZN is still very new, and the platform hasn’t pulled in a giant number of subscribers yet. It’s still not a good thing that the hardcore boxing fans will have to choose between the two cards on the night.

The Beterbiev vs. Kalajdzic undercard is still taking shape. It’s going to be a while before we know who precisely will be fighting on the card. As of now, these are the fighters on the undercard:

– Felix Valera vs. TBA

– Vislan Dalkhaev vs. TBA

– Vincent Jennings vs. TBA

– Isidro Ochoa vs. TBA

– Movladdin Biyarslanov vs. TBA

– Marco Antonio Arroyo vs. TBA

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