By Luke Furman
Montrealer of Russian origin, light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs), is about to become the IBF's mandatory challenger to world champion Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs).
The IBF, and Beterbiev's promoter Yvon Michel, have gone through hell in their failed attempts to secure an opponent for a final world title eliminator.
Beterbiev, ranked second since his knockout win over Gabriel Campillo in April 2015, has been unable to find a dance to partner for the eliminator and the sanctioning body is tired of wasting time.
The six top-ranked contenders, including Beterbiev, have until March 23 at 5 pm to demonstrate their intention to fight in a final eliminator.
Other contenders contacted by the IBF include Sergey Kovalev, Erik Skoglund, Enrico Kölling, Dominic Bösel and Robert Stieglitz.
Almost every name mentioned has already rejected the idea of fighting Beterbiev in a final eliminator.
If no contender is willing to fight Beterbiev by Thursday, then the Russian puncher will become the mandatory challenger by default.
Ward captured the WBA, WBO, IBF titles with a twelve round unanimous decision over Sergey Kovalev in November. There is an immediate rematch clause, and the second fight is being targeted for June 17 in Las Vegas.
Michel wants Beterbiev to get his crack at Ward (or Kovalev) by September. Beterbiev is scheduled to fight on a date in May after a planned fight in April, against Sullivan Barrera, fell apart after the Cuban fighter refused to go forward with the contest.
"The fight should take place no later than September, which should give Ward more than enough time to face Kovalev," Yvon Michel told RDS.
"If the champion is not ready, he could [then] give up the belt and Beterbiev could fight for the title. [Until then], we do not want to leave Beterbiev inactive and he should fight somewhere in May. We should have news very soon. "
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.