Artur Beterbiev’s July 29th fight against Enrico Koelling has been officially scrapped. The two had been lined up to fight for the right to become Andre Ward’s IBF mandatory challenger on the upcoming Broner-Garcia undercard in Brooklyn.
The real question here is why. And depending on who you ask, you’re going to get a different story.
According to Beterbiev’s promoter Yvon Michel [which is a point of contention I’ll get to in a moment], it’s because Beterbiev was unable to obtain a visa to get into the United States:
"The fight was placed on the July 29 event in New York, but Beterbiev's visa entry for USA was denied," Michel told ESPN. "We have requested revision, and it was still denied. We then decided to contact the IBF and cancelled the fight. Most likely the IBF will reschedule the purse bid."
Beterbiev has been signed to Michel since he turned professional in 2013, but he’s recently been claimed that his contract with the promoter has run its course and has sought a formal split with Michel through the courts. Beterbiev argues that he hasn’t been paid his minimum purses nor received the requisite number of fight owed to him under the promoter (despite sitting on the shelf for a year with a shoulder injury).
Michel obviously disagrees with Beterbiev’s contention and believes the fighter is still under contract with him — which is why he said he tried to finalize the title eliminator — but Beterbiev’s attorney, Me Karim Renno, claims that Michel really canceled the fight in a revenge plot for the lawsuit filed against him.
"It is particularly disturbing to see everything that has been said by the Groupe Yvon Michel," he said. "This is fundamentally false. Artur's fight was not cancelled because he wasn't able to get an American visa. It was cancelled because Artur refuses to drop his civil lawsuits against the Groupe Yvon Michel."
With such contrasting stories you just know this whole situation between Michel and Beterbiev is going to take awhile to get sorted out through the courts. The worst part is that Beterbiev is thought to be one of the best light heavyweights in the world, but he still needs the fights to prove it. And at age 32, prolonged inactivity for any reason is never a good thing.