Artur Beterbiev appears to be done for the year.
BoxingScene.com has learned that plans are now on hold for the lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO light heavyweight champion to defend against England’s Anthony Yarde. An undisclosed injury suffered by Beterbiev forced the previously agreed-upon WBO mandatory title fight—eyed for late October—to be pushed back until early 2023.
IFL TV reports that Yarde (22-2, 21KOs) will likely take a stay-busy fight in November, according to Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren whose Queensberry Promotions was to present the event from London.
Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs) was prepared to travel abroad, tentatively agreeing to terms heading into his June 18 multi-belt unification bout with Joe Smith Jr. at Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater in New York City. Beterbiev tore through Smith, earning a second-round knockout to win the WBO belt while defending his lineal/WBC/IBF titles.
Yarde was in attendance for the ESPN-televised unification bout, already of the knowledge that he would have next crack at the championship. That still rings true, though he will now have to wait a few more months for his second career title opportunity.
Beterbiev suffered both an injury and illness in his oft-postponed IBF mandatory title defense against Adam Deines, already a replacement opponent for Meng Fanlong.
A rib injury prompted a postponement of their October 2020 date in Russia—which was already pushed back one month by that point—while a positive Covid test forced Beterbiev to withdraw from their rescheduled December 2020 clash. The two finally met last March, with Beterbiev scoring a tenth-round stoppage to defend his championship. The win was among six overall title defenses he has made since winning the IBF belt in November 2017.
Beterbiev added the lineal and WBC crowns after knocking out Oleksandr Gvozdyk in the tenth-round of their October 2019 unification bout between unbeaten light heavyweights.
The delay in getting to Yarde will likely leave the winner with at least one more mandatory title defense to honor. Title eliminators have been ordered by both the WBC and IBF.
Callum Smith and Matthew Bauderlique meet in a WBC final eliminator on the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua undercard this Saturday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The IBF has scheduled a purse bid hearing for August 30 to determine promotional rights for the ordered title elimination bout between 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist Joshua Buatsi and former lineal/WBC champ Jean Pascal.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox