As first reported by Dan Rafael, Artur Beterbiev’s mandatory IBF light heavyweight title defense against Meng Fanlong is now set for September 25th in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO), the IBF champion since 2017, got the order to face former Olympian Meng (16-0, 10 KO) after beating down Oleksandr Gvozdyk for the WBC belt in October. The matchup soon went through quite the roller coaster; Rejoy Group initially won the purse bid with a colossal $1.9 million offer and made clear their intent to stage it in China, only to default on the payment and leave Top Rank in control. Bob Arum and co. scheduled it for March 28th in Quebec City, but COVID made quick work of those plans.
Interestingly, the Dagestani-born Beterbiev has actually never competed professionally in Russia, scoring all 15 of his pro finishes in North America. It would likewise be Meng’s first fight in the country, though he’s spent the majority of his career outside of his native China.
As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s far from the most appealing defense Beterbiev could make, but anything that keeps him in the ring is a win.