WBC and IBF light heavyweight titleholder Artur Beterbiev doesn’t really care who or where he fights, Top Rank’s Todd duBoef tells Sky Sports, and that means yes, he’s open to a trip to the United Kingdom to possibly defend his titles against highly-ranked contender and prospect Joshua Buatsi.
Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO) has a mandatory defense against Meng Fanlong due next, which was postponed from its Mar. 28 date, but after that Buatsi (12-0, 10 KO) may be in line.
duBoef told Sky that Beterbiev “would fight in the UK in two seconds and he wouldn’t see it as an obligation,” and that the fighter is “a complete, absolute beast!” He said that like Vasiliy Lomachenko, who went to the UK last August to face Luke Campbell, Beterbiev simply doesn’t care where his fights are.
(This is probably mostly true, but it’s worth noting that Beterbiev did refuse to face Meng in China for religious and political reasons. This is not meant as a “gotcha!” but just a note that he has does have some opinion on where he fights, it’s just not connected to any fear of bogus score cards or whatever.)
Beterbiev is frankly expected by most to manhandle Meng, and while a unification with Dmitry Bivol would be top of the desired list for fight fans out there, and probably for Beterbiev, too, the 27-year-old Buatsi may well get a call sooner than later.
Buatsi believes he’s plenty dangerous in the fight, but his first preference for the time being may be Callum Johnson, who at some point will be facing Igor Mikhalkin for the European title. It would really be the wiser path. Johnson (18-1, 13 KO) is a banger himself, and he had a real war with Beterbiev back in 2018, with both hitting the canvas before Beterbiev stopped Johnson in the fourth.
Johnson could be about as good a chance to prepare for Beterbiev as Buatsi would get, and it’s certainly no gimme fight, either. (Johnson beating Mikhalkin, tentatively slated for July 4, is also no gimme, for the record, though Johnson will be favored.) Buatsi admits he’s still learning as a pro.
“With more learning and guidance, when the time is right, I’ll be ready to handle these guys,” he tells Sky. “I believe, in the ring, I’m as dangerous as they are.”