As impressive as Artur Beterbiev was on his way to obliterating Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Meng Fanlong noticed flaws in the Russian knockout artist that night.
China’s Fanlong watched from a ringside seat October 18 in Philadelphia, where the hard-hitting Beterbiev dropped Gvozdyk three times in the 10th round of their light heavyweight title unification fight. The unbeaten Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) stopped the previously undefeated Gvozdyk in that same 10th round to retain his IBF light heavyweight title and win the WBC belt from Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in a main event ESPN aired from Temple University’s Liacouras Center.
“I was at that fight and I saw his whole performance,” Fanlong told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “I saw his strengths and I also saw his weaknesses, which greatly helped me in this training camp.”
Fanlong (16-0, 10 KOs), the IBF’s mandatory challenger for Beterbiev’s belt, recently completed almost an entire training camp in Paterson, New Jersey, because he was supposed to battle Beterbiev this Saturday night at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada. Their 12-round, 175-pound championship match was postponed indefinitely last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whenever they fight, Fanlong will be driven by detractors that think he doesn’t have a chance to upset an opponent who has defeated each of his pro opponents by knockout or technical knockout.
“People are underestimating me because a lot of people make comments without really looking at things,” Fanlong said. “If they look at my videos, they’ll know who I was as an amateur and they’ll know what I accomplished. The more people underestimate me, the more power it brings to me, that I have to prove myself.”
The 32-year-old Fanlong, a 6-feet-2 southpaw who represented China in the light heavyweight division at the 2012 Summer Olympics, will take a steep step up in class when he boxes Beterbiev. The 35-year-old Beterbiev lost to eventual gold medalist Oleksandr Usyk, 17-13, in the heavyweight quarterfinals in 2012 in London.
“Everybody says that he’s a big puncher, but I have no idea,” Fanlong said. “For me, the most important thing is to concentrate on my part. I had a very successful training camp. Shaun George is an excellent trainer. He’s very detailed and I worked with him throughout training camp to make sure I made progress and that I’m on point.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.