By Luke Furman
Big wind of change is coming for the career of Artur Beterbiev (12-0, 12 KOs), who holds the IBF world light heavyweight championship.
TVA Sports has revealed that the boxer has signed a promotional agreement with Top Rank.
His decision to go with Top Rank is no surprise. Top Rank took part, and won, the purse bid for Beterbiev's last bout, which took place on November 11 against Enrico Koelling. Top Rank showcased that fight on ESPN and staged it at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California.
Beterbiev stopped Koelling in the twelfth round to capture the vacant IBF crown. The belt became vacant after champion Andre Ward announced his retirement from boxing.
The future of Beterbiev will be interesting, because Top Rank has an exclusive content deal with ESPN - while WBA champion Dmitry Bivol and WBO champion Sergey Kovalev are aligned with HBO, and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson works with Showtime.
According to the Canadian news outlet, the 33-year-old boxer could defend his IBF title for the first time on April 19, as part of an ESPN televised card. The opponent that Beterbiev's handlers would like to get is Marcus Browne (21-0).
Browne is ranked third by the IBF and could become the mandatory contender for Beterbiev's belt.
TVA notes that Beterbiev has also signed an agreement with sports agent Nick Khan of Creative Artists Agency.
UFC superstar Georges St-Pierre had advised Beterbiev to work with Khan, with CAA negotiating the terms for his promotional deal with Top Rank.
The decision to sign with CAA has left question marks regarding Beterbiev's association with adviser Al Haymon.
Of course, there is still unfinished business between Beterbiev and Canadian promoter Yvon Michel.
The two sides are still involved in a legal battle. Michel claims Beterbiev is still under a promotional agreement, while the boxer claims the contract in no longer valid.
Both parties will be in front of the judge on May 14.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.