Artur Beterbiev vs. Fanlong Meng on September 25 in Ekaterinburg in Russia
By Jim Maltzman: Artur Beterbiev will be back in the ring in two months from now defending his IBF/WBC light heavyweight titles against his IBF mandatory Fanlong Meng on September 25. Meng will be the unbeaten Beterbiev’s fourth defense of his IBF 175-pound title he captured in 2017.
Beterbiev-Meng isn’t the fight that the boxing fans wanted to see, but that’ll need to be patient. Meng is the two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev’s mandatory, and he can’t get around taking this fight.
Artur needs to get Meng commitment out of the way
Beterbiev was supposed to be facing the 32-year-old Chinese fighter Meng on March 28 in Quebec City, but the pandemic derailed the fight. The virus has delayed what should be a straightforward win for Beterbiev over an opponent with little power or experience against world level opposition.
Once Beterbiev takes care of his IBF obligation against the little known, light-hitting Meng, he can then move on to bigger and better things. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum had hoped the Canelo Alvarez would hold onto his WBO light heavyweight title to face Beterbiev after he beat champion Sergey Kovalev last November.
Alvarez chose to vacate the WBO belt rather than face Beterbeiv, which would have been a tough fight for the Mexican star. Beterbiev is the guy that Canelo should have chosen to fight for a world title last November, but he opted for the 36-year-old Kovalev. That was the more winnable fight for Canelo.
Originally, Beterbiev-Meng was to take place in China, but that fight failed to happen due to the money not being there.
There’s not a whole lot of excitement about Beterbiev defending against Meng. It’s another example of the International Boxing Federation giving a high ranking to a fighter that hasn’t earned the #1 spot.
The IBF needs to do a better job of ranking contenders that have talent and experience. Unfortunately, there are too many mismatches involving the champions holding that belt defending clueless looking mandatory challengers.
Meng’s best career wins:
- Adam Deines
- Frank Buglioni
- Emmanuel Danso
- Daniel Judah
Those guys are arguably 2nd tier-level fighters, but the IBF was impressed enough to make Meng their mandatory. Hopefully, Meng can make a fight of it against Beterbiev because that would be a disappointment for fans to see another mismatch involving the IBF belt.
Artur coming off a big win over Gvozdyk
Beterbiev looked superb in defeating WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk by a 10th round knockout last October at the Liacouras Center, Philadelphia. Oddly enough, the oddsmakers had Gvozdyk the favorite going into the match.
The previously unbeaten Gvozdyk gave Beterbiev some problems early in the contest, but then he deteriorated quickly in the second half of the bout. Beterbiev’s body attack, and inside fighting was too much for Gvozdyk to handle.
It was like two different Beterbiev’s out there in that fight. Earlier in the bout, Beterbiev was head-hunting and having a hard time of it due to Gvozdyk’s defense and excellent boxing skills.
But in the championship rounds, Beterbiev changed things up and started targeting the body of Gvozdyk. That’s when Artur took over the fight and stopped him.
Recently, Gvozdyk retired from boxing with just the one loss to Beterbiev on his record. A lot of fans wanted to see Beterbiev and Gvozdyk fight a rematch, but unfortunately, it’s not happening.
If Beterbiev beats Meng, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum could look to set up a unification match between him and WBA champ Dmitry Bivol. That’s the fight the fans want to see. It would be great if Canelo shows some courage and moves back up to 175 to challenge Beterbiev, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.
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