By Vadim Pushkin
The International Boxing Federation has confirmed that light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs) is about to become the mandatory challenger to IBF world champion Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs).
BoxingScene.com reported on Tuesday that Beterbiev was about to get the mandatory position, by default, because of the boxer's tough task in securing an opponent for a final eliminator.
The six top-ranked contenders, including Beterbiev, have until March 23 at 5 pm to agree to take part in the IBF's final eliminator. The other boxers include Sergey Kovalev, Erik Skoglund, Enrico Kölling, Dominic Bösel and Robert Stieglitz.
If everything goes as expected, Beterbiev will become the mandatory challenger to Ward, who is scheduled to face Sergey Kovalev in a rematch.
Ward captured the WBA, WBO, IBF titles with a twelve round unanimous decision over Sergey Kovalev in November. There is an immediate rematch clause, and the second fight is being targeted for June 17 in Las Vegas.
"The IBF is aware that Barrera refused to fight with Beterbiev. Right now we are going down the ratings and if no one agrees to fight with Beterbiev, then he will become the mandatory challenger to fight with the winner of the Ward-Kovalev rematch," an IBF press officer stated to Basil Konov.
Up until last week, Beterbiev was going to fight Sullivan Barrera in a final IBF eliminator on April 21 in Miami. Barrera withdrew from the contest, expressing his displeasure with the financial terms of the agreement. Those terms were established because Beterbiev's promoter, Yvon Michel of GYM, won the IBF's purse bid.
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who promotes both Barrera and Kovalev, stated:
"Barrera was unhappy with the fact that for a long time a contract to fight with Beterbiev was not signed and he didn't want to spend more money on training without a contract. As for the rematch between Kovalev and Ward, I can say that we are working on this fight."