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Artur Beterbiev tests positive for COVID, fight with Adam Deines delayed again

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Beterbiev had to withdraw from an earlier date with a broken rib.

Light heavyweight world title unification boxing bout Beterbiev vs Gvozdyk in Philadelphia, US Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

Pray you never have reason to hate something as ferociously as the universe hates Artur Beterbiev. The unified light heavyweight champ’s January 30th title defense against Adam Deines is off after Beterbiev tested positive for COVID.

Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO), whose career has been thoroughly plagued with inactivity, hasn’t seen action since overpowering Oleksandr Gvozdyk for the WBC belt in October of last year. COVID scrapped a mandatory IBF title defense against Meng Fanlong, then Deines (19-1-1, 10 KO) replaced Meng when the latter ran into visa issues, then Beterbiev broke a rib, and now this.

One would hope that Top Rank would take the hint, reschedule the Meng fight instead, and get that obligation out of the way. Beterbiev turns 36 next month and will have an obvious follow-up opponent in the February 13th Joe Smith Jr.-Maxim Vlasov winner. Adam Deines does not need to be part of this conversation; not to belittle Meng’s abilities, but the Beterbiev we know doesn’t need a tune-up to devastate him and set up further unification.