By Luke Furman
Th reshaping of the light heavyweight division has officially begun. Two weeks ago, IBF, WBA, WBO light heavyweight world champion Andre Ward shocked everyone by announcing his retirement from the sport.
With has withdrawal from the sport, there will be three new champions in the sport.
On November 11 in Fresno, California - top contenders Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs) and Enrico Koelling (23-1, 6 KOs) will collide. ESPN will televise the contest as part of their TV deal with Top Rank.
The fight between Beterbiev and Koelling was originally set as an IBF final eliminator, with the winner receiving an immediate shot at Ward.
But now with Ward's retirement, the IBF has advised BoxingScene.com that Beterbiev vs. Koelling has been officially approved as a world title fight.
"The IBF has received official notification that IBF light heavyweight champion Andre Ward has retired leaving that title vacant. The Artur Beterbiev vs. Enrico Koelling bout originally scheduled to be an eliminator for the #1 position has been given formal sanction approval and will be for the IBF vacant light heavyweight championship," the IBF confirmed in a statement.
The promotional future of Beterbiev is still not clear. He is currently going through a legal battle with Yvon Michel of Canada. The fight with Koelling was secured by Top Rank, because they won the IBF's purse bid. If Beterbiev is able to break away from Michel, he is likely going to sign with Top Rank. Michel claims to have a lot of time left on his promotional agreement with Beterbiev.
Koelling has won his last seven fights, since losing a decision to Mirco Ricci in February 2015.
Beterbiev will be returning to the ring after a nearly one year layoff. He was in the ring back in December, when he broke down and stopped Isidro Ranoni Prieto.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.