As established shortly after his knockout of Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Artur Beterbiev’s first task as unified IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion will be to face IBF mandatory challenger Meng Fanlong. The two have until December 30th to come to terms before a purse bid will be held, split 65/35 between champion and challenger.
Meng (16-0, 12 KO), a 2012 Olympian who lost a countback decision to Yamaguchi Falcao, picked up the “inter-continental” version of Beterbiev’s belt last year with a cut stoppage of Frank Buglioni. Seven months later, he got off the canvas to claim mandatory status with a decision over unbeaten Adam Deines, then stayed busy by knocking out designated victim Gilberto Rubio in October.
Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO), meanwhile, finally got the breakout win we’ve been waiting for throughout his painfully stop-and-start career with his beatdown of Gvozdyk. With his promotional issues seemingly behind him, it looks as though the hammer-handed Russian is on track to test his mettle against more top-notch fighters.
Meng may a sizeable underdog, but he’s a solid fighter and a mandatory challenger; as long as he and Beterbiev get in the ring without too much delay, this is fine.
It’s not clear whether Beterbiev will then have to deal with a WBC mandatory; his #1 contender is Gilberto Ramirez, but “Zurdo” seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth after his successful division debut. Fingers crossed we’ll get some more unification next year, either with WBA champ Dmitry Bivol or whoever winds up claiming Canelo’s former WBO belt.