WBC/IBF light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev, boxing’s reigning knockout king, will look to make it a Sweet 16 north of the border. Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs), the sport’s only current world champion with a 100 percent KO rate, will defend his titles against IBF No. 1 contender Meng Fanlong Saturday, March 28 from Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada.
The Russian-born Beterbiev has made his home in Montreal for several years and will fight in his adopted home country for the first time as a world champion. This is title defense number four for Beterbiev, who unified titles last October with a sensational knockout victory over Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk.
Bob Arum: Meng won’t be intimidated by Beterbiev
“Artur Beterbiev is uniquely motivated to put on a show for his Canadian fans, as he returns to Canada as a unified world champion,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Like Artur, Meng was a tremendous amateur. He’s fought around the world and will not be intimidated as a challenger in foreign territory.”
“Team Meng has waited a very long time for his opportunity, and now his time is here,” said Dino Duva of Roc Nation Sports and Meng’s promoter. “Artur Beterbiev is one of the best fighters in the world, and that’s what will make this fight so special for Fanlong. I sincerely believe Fanlong will win and make history. I cannot wait for March 28 in Quebec City.”
Beterbiev was a standout Russian amateur who competed for his homeland at the 2012 London and 2008 Beijing Olympics, but he moved to Montreal to begin his professional career. A seven-year pro, Beterbiev fought 10 of his first 11 bouts in the province of Quebec, building a devoted fanbase in his new home.
Beterbiev knocked out Enrico Koelling in 12 rounds to win the IBF light heavyweight world title in November 2017. Two successful title defenses followed before he met WBC world champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk last October. In one of the best fights of the year, Beterbiev stopped Gvozdyk in 10 rounds to unify the belts.
Beterbiev looking forward to defending in Quebec
“I’m very much looking forward to defending my IBF and WBC titles against mandatory challenger Meng Fanlong on March 28 in beautiful Quebec City,” Beterbiev said. “I’m training hard, improving every day, and I intend to perform at my best in front of my Canadian supporters!”
Fanlong (16-0, 10 KOs), from Chifeng, China, was a 2012 Olympian who advanced to the round of 16 before turning pro in January 2015. He is an experienced road warrior, as he traveled to Monaco and knocked out former British light heavyweight champion Frank Buglioni in November 2018.
Last June, in a world title eliminator, he survived an eighth-round knockdown to secure a unanimous decision over the then-unbeaten Adam Deines. He stayed busy last October in New Jersey with a second-round stoppage over Gilberto Rubio. Fanlong is aiming to become the first male Chinese boxer above featherweight to capture a world title.
Fanlong excited at challenging Beterbiev
“I am truly honored to be fighting Artur Beterbiev for the light heavyweight championship,” Fanlong said. “I have worked hard to earn the mandatory position, and I plan on being the first Chinese light heavyweight champion in history. This is just the beginning.”
Beterbiev-Fanlong and a co-feature will be televised LIVE on ESPN beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
Beterbiev vs. Fanlong ticket information
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Groupe Yvon Michel, Roc Nation Sports and Gestev, tickets priced ($CA) at $542, $330, $275, $137, $104, $75 and $55 (including fees and taxes) go on sale Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. ET and are available via www.ticketmaster.ca and in person at the Videotron Centre box office.