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Artur Beterbiev (Meniscus) Injured, RING/Undisputed Championship Versus Bivol Postponed

Artur Beterbiev (Meniscus) Injured, RING/Undisputed Championship Versus Bivol Postponed

The light heavyweight debate will have to linger for a few more months.

Artur Beterbiev was once again forced to postpone a title fight due to injury. This one delays the heavily anticipated undisputed showdown versus fellow unbeaten titlist Dmitry Bivol. Beterbiev suffered a ruptured meniscus during training camp, which took their anticipated showdown off the current schedule.

“The plan is to reschedule Beterbiev-Bivol before the end of the year,” Top Rank confirmed in a company statement made available to the media. “Additional details will be provided in due course.”

The top two light heavyweights in the world were due to meet on June 1 at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Beterbiev (20-0, 20 knockouts) is No. 1 at 175, No. 5 pound-for-pound and the unified WBC, IBF and WBO titlist. The Russia-born, Montreal-based knockout artist is also the recognized lineal champion. Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs) is No. 2 at 175, No. 6 pound-for-pound and owns the WBA title.

The winner would have crowned the first undisputed champion at the weight in more than two decades. ESPN+ was due to air the attractive matchup in the United States. The rest of the show will move forward, featuring the well-publicized Matchroom vs. Queensberry 5-vs.-5 event. Those bouts were always due to air live on DAZN Pay-Per-View, separate from the Beterbiev-Bivol championship.

“After receiving today’s news about Beterbiev’s injury, we will be postponing…the fight,” confirmed Turki Alalshikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority. “Wishing my brother Artur a speedy recovery.

“However, the 5v5 event is still on for June 1st.”

There is a chance that Bivol will remain on the show. Event handlers are currently working to secure a replacement opponent, though on just four weeks’ notice.

Beterbiev was due to attempt his tenth title fight win and seventh with two or more belts at stake. The last came in a seventh-round knockout of Callum Smith (29-2, 23 KOs) on January 13 in Quebec City. He’s outlasted the sport’s politics to keep his three-belt reign intact and position himself to collect the final chip.

However, his title reign has been crippled by injuries, illness and the pandemic.

Beterbiev suffered both an injury and illness in his oft-postponed IBF mandatory title defense against Adam Deines. A rib injury prompted a postponement of their October 2020 date in Russia, already postponed by one month by that point. The rescheduled December 2020 was scrapped when Beterbiev tested positive for Covid.

The two finally met in March 2021. Beterbiev overcame ring rust to stop Deines in the tenth round. He went on to also stop Marcus Browne in a December 2021 championship defense. It remains his only two-fight campaign since 2019.

Beterbiev fought just once in 2022, though he made it count. A crushing second-round stoppage of Joe Smith Jr. saw Beterbiev unify the WBC, IBF and WBO titles. He was due to face mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde later that October. However, another injury forced a three-month postponement.

Their rescheduled clash last January 28 saw Beterbiev fend off the scrappy Brit to earn an eighth-round stoppage in London.

It would serve as his only fight on the year.

A separate mandatory title defense versus Liverpool’s Callum Smith was due to take place last summer. Beterbiev had to withdraw due to a tooth infection. They would eventually meet on January 21. Beterbiev, 39, delivered one of his best performances in a seventh-round knockout of the former Ring/WBA super middleweight champ.

The win set up the one fight he wanted the most—a clash with Bivol for that final chip.

“I see another belt,” Beterbiev stated during their April 15 press conference to formally announce the event. “I’m collecting belts. I need one more.”

Bivol was more than happy to accommodate that request. He now becomes a victim of circumstance.

A 2022 Fighter of the Year campaign saw Bivol upend pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and then-unbeaten Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. His reward was stalled momentum in a wasted 2023 that only saw one fight. Bivol outpointed Lyndon Arthur over twelve rounds last December 23 in Riyadh.

The only upside was that the fight took place on a card presented by Alalshikh, who was keen to deliver the Beterbiev fight. It was a worthwhile time investment for Bivol, though the sport will once again test his patience.

Bivol has held the full version of the WBA 175-pound title since November 2017. He knocked out Trent Broadhurst in the first round to upgrade his ‘Regular’ belt to the full version. Ten more title defenses have followed as he has long craved undisputed status.

Thanks to his counterpart, there now comes an extension to that already long wait.

Jake Donovan a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Follow @JakeNDaBox

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The post Artur Beterbiev (Meniscus) Injured, RING/Undisputed Championship Versus Bivol Postponed appeared first on The Ring.

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