Dino Duva has a message for those who’ve dismissed Artur Beterbiev-Meng Fanlong as just another mismatch mandated by a sanctioning organization.
The Chinese contender’s longtime promoter believes Beterbiev is in for a very difficult fight March 28 in Quebec City, Quebec. Duva has touted Fanlong as a future light heavyweight champion since the 2012 Olympian moved to northern New Jersey to train five years ago.
“Beterbiev obviously is a very strong guy,” Roc Nation Sports’ Duva told BoxingScene.com. “He’s a great puncher and if he hits you, he can hurt you. But I don’t think he’s unbeatable. He has some flaws and some technical weaknesses. I believe Fanlong has the technical skills to fight anybody in the world, I really do. I always have and now this is his chance to prove it.”
The 32-year-old Fanlong is undefeated in 16 professional bouts, but he has beaten a low level of opposition on his way to becoming the IBF’s number one contender at 175 pounds. The Russian-born, Quebec-based Beterbiev has knocked out each of his 15 pro opponents, including a 10th-round stoppage of previously unbeaten WBC champ Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in their title unification fight October 18 in Philadelphia.
“Going into the fight, in most people’s minds Beterbiev will be the favorite,” Duva conceded. “But don’t count Meng Fanlong out. This kid can fight. He knows how to fight. He’s got a tough style. He’s a tall, lanky southpaw who really knows how to fight. He’s got balls. I think it’s gonna be a great fight. Don’t be surprised if this kid surprises people. He knows how to fight.”
The 6-feet-2 Fanlong established himself as the IBF’s mandatory light heavyweight challenger by out-pointing Germany’s Adam Deines (19-1-1, 10 KOs) in their 12-round elimination match June 1 in Macau, China. Deines dropped Fanlong in the eighth round of that bout, but Fanlong got up quickly, regained control of their fight and defeated Deines decisively on the scorecards (117-109, 116-110, 115-111).
Beterbiev obviously is a huge step up from Deines and anyone else Fanlong has fought.
“He’s fighting the best,” Duva said. “Beterbiev is generally recognized as the best light heavyweight in the world, and rightly so. And that’s what Fanlong always wanted – he wanted to fight the best. He wins this fight, he’s gonna be on top of the world. We’re really excited about it.”
ESPN will televise the Beterbiev-Fanlong fight from Videotron Centre in Quebec City.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.