By Allan Fox: Artur Beterbiev (16-0, 16 KOs) will be looking to register his 17th consecutive knockout next month when he defends his IBF & WBC light heavyweight titles against his WBC mandatory challenger Marcus ‘Sir’ Browne (24-1, 16 KOs) at the Bell Centre in Monreal on ESPN+.
The two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev wants to stay on a crash course for a potential mega-fight against Canelo Alvarez in 2022 or 2023.
The Mexican superstar Canelo let Top Rank promoter Bob Arum know last September that he’s interested in challenging Beterbiev or his two 175-lb titles soon.
Arum says whether the Canelo-Beterbiev fight takes place will be up to Canelo’s trainer & manager, Eddy Reynoso. If he believes Canelo is up to the challenge to take on the heavy-handed Beterbiev, the fight will happen.
The 2012 U.S Olympian Browne, 31, is coming off a 10 round unanimous decision win over Denis Grachev last April. Before that, Browne was beaten by former WBC 175-lb champion Jean Pascal by an eight round technical decision in August 2019.
Beterbiev heading towards undisputed
“Artur Beterbiev is one of the pound-for-pound great fighters in boxing today, a fearsome puncher, a great crowd-pleaser,” said Beterbiev’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank. “In Marcus Browne, he fights his #1 contender.
“The light heavyweight division is alive and well,” Arum continued. “Joe Smith, the WBO light heavyweight champion, will be fighting in mid-January for the world title, and we hope before the end of the year.
Next year, the titles will be unified [at 175], and the unified champion with all four titles can meet perhaps Canelo Alvarez, who is always on the lookout for opponents.
“We believe Artur Beterbiev is by far the best light heavyweight in the world and will conquer whoever is put before him.
“I know that our good friends at PBC and Tom Brown believe that Marcus Browne is a terrific fighter and capable of beating Beterbiev, and that’s why fighters go into the ring to test out who is the best.
“It should be a great, great night of boxing at the Bell Centre in Montreal, and I can’t wait for it to happen.
“I can’t wait for this 90-year-old guy, which I will be by then, to go to my first country outside of the United States.
“I think it’s possible for it to be in Canada because the first fight I promoted was in Toronto, Canada, almost 57 years ago when Ali fought Chavalo.
“So I can’t wait to go back to Canada. Thank God, the border is open both ways, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all on December 17th,” said Arum.
Beterbiev needs a wins over Browne, WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol and WBO champ Joe Smith Jr. to become the undisputed champion at 175.
It’ll be an easy fight for Arum to make between Beterbiev and Smith Jr. in 2022, as he promotes both guys. Putting a contest together with Bivol will be more complicated for Arum, as he’s with Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom Boxing promotional company.
Before Beterbiev can think of unification fights, he needs to focus on getting past Browne.
Browne is perhaps Beterbiev’s toughest career fight, more brutal than his match against former WBC 175-lb champion Oleksandr Gvozyk in 2019.
Canelo wants Beterbiev fight
“If Eddy [Reynoso’s okays the fight, then Eddy believes Canelo has the talent to beat Beterbiev,” said Arum to Fight hub TV.
“If Eddy doesn’t okay the fight, then Eddy doesn’t believe Canelo is ready for Beterbiev and 175 for a puncher like Beterbiev may be a bridge too far.
“Canelo sat next to be in the Valdez fight, and he indicated to me that Beterbiev is a good possibility,” said Arum.
Canelo is moving up to cruiserweight to challenge WBC champion Ilunga Makabu in early 2022. If Canelo wins that fight, he might return to 168 to face Gennady Golovkin.