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Artur Beterbiev looking strong training for Fanlong Meng

Artur Beterbiev

By Matt Lieberman: IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev looking great preparing for his title defense against Fanlong Meng in 17 days from now on March 28 at the Centre Videotron, in Quebec City, Canada.

The unbeaten Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) is facing his IBF mandatory Meng (17-0, 10 KOs), and he wants to be ready.

Beterbiev-Meng will be shown live on ESPN on March 28 at 10:00 p.m. ET. This is the first fight for Beterbiev since his 10th round knockout of WBC 175lb champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk on October 18. That was a big win for Beterbiev in defeating the previously unbeaten Gvzdyk, who was the favorite going into that match. Beterbiev chopped Gvozdyk with body punching in the later rounds and ended up stopping him.

While this is a step down for the two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev from his last fight against Gvozdyk, he can’t afford to overlook Meng. The 31-year-old Meng competed in the 2012 Olympics for China, and he has impressive wins over Frank Buglioni and Adam Deines as a pro.

Andre Ward: Canelo would never fight Beterbiev

Recently there was hope that Canelo Alvarez would agree to fight Beterbiev after the Mexican star beat WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev last November. Fan wanted to see Canelo face IBF/WBC 175-lb champion Beterbiev in a unification.

Andre Ward predicted that Canelo wouldn’t take a fight with Beterbiev, and he proved to be right. Canelo quietly vacated his WBO light heavyweight title and moved back down to 168 without taking a risk of facing Beterbiev.

“I’d love to see Canelo-Beterbiev. I love that styles match-up,” said Kellerman to ESPN UK. “He [Beterbiev] is a beast. The kind of guy that makes you happy that you’re retired, right Andre [Ward]? Not that you wouldn’t beat him, but who wants to go through that hell? That would be interesting, Andre Ward vs. Beterbiev.”

“He’d NEVER fight Beterbiev,” said Andre Ward about Canelo.

“Beterbiev is a little bit different. I’ve sat back and watched and called his fights. I’ve studied him. He’s different. This dude, he throws his body into every punch. He’s physically a hard man. He’s strong, and he hits extremely hard.

“He doesn’t even have to hit you clean. He can graze you, and you can have problems. But he’s also an underrated boxer. This guy has got over 300 amateur fights. He’s come up in the Soviet system. He’s a lot better skillfully than what people give him credit for, and he’s going to be a hard guy to beat.,” said Ward of Beterbiev.

Canelo isn’t likely to return to the 175 to face Beterbiev, but you never know. It’s possible In the meantime, Beterbiev needs to take care of his IBF mandatory Meng on March 28th. This is going to be a good fight.

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