A deal for the Artur Beterbiev-Meng Fanlong light heavyweight title fight has been completed.
Contracts have been finalized for the Beterbiev-Fanlong fight to take place March 28 at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. ESPN, which first reported that this deal was completed, will televise Beterbiev’s mandatory defense of his IBF 175-pound championship versus Fanlong.
The unbeaten Beterbiev resides in Montreal, thus this is a home-province fight for the Russian-born champion. The likelihood of their fight taking place in Quebec became greater once Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Beterbiev’s co-promoter, was declared the winner of the purse bid for this IBF-mandated match by default.
Longjoy Sports, a Chinese promoter, initially won the purse bid by submitting a $1,900,000 offer and intended to bring the fight to Fanlong’s native China. Once Longjoy Sports failed to meet deposit deadlines attached to its winning bid, Top Rank won by default with a bid of $1,315,000.
Taking their fight to Quebec City alleviated Beterbiev’s concerns about traveling to China to fight Fanlong. Beterbiev is a devout Muslim and didn’t want to fight there because the Chinese government has mistreated Muslims, many of whom have been held in detention centers.
The 35-year-old Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) has competed in four straight fights in the United States. Before boxing in Fresno, California, Chicago, Stockton, California, and Philadelphia, Beterbiev had fought almost exclusively in Quebec, where he moved after appearing at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
In his last fight, Beterbiev knocked down previously unbeaten Oleksandr Gvozdyk three times in the 10th round and stopped him. Beterbiev retained his IBF light heavyweight title and won the WBC belt from Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in a main event ESPN televised from Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
Beterbiev trailed Gvozdyk on two of three scorecards at the time of the stoppage (84-87, 85-86, 87-83).
The 31-year-old Fanlong is 16-0, including 10 knockouts, but he hasn’t fought a high level of opposition since he turned pro five years ago. Before making his pro debut in January 2015, Fanlong represented China at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.