Just days after ordering Gilberto Ramirez vs. Marcus Browne for the interim light heavyweight title, the WBC has revealed that now-healthy champion Artur Beterbiev’s voluntary defense against Adam Deines is back on for March 20th, “most likely” in Moscow, Russia.
This marks the fight’s fifth planned date; after jumping from September 25th to October 9th, the parties involved finally settled on October 23rd, only for Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO) to suffer a broken rib. Next came January 30th, which collapsed when Beterbiev tested positive for COVID.
This was a perfect opportunity to scrap the fight entirely; Deines (19-1-1, 10 KO) is an unworthy challenger brought in due to Top Rank’s insistence on staging the fight in Russia, which prevented IBF mandatory Meng Fanlong from facing Beterbiev due to visa issues. There was absolutely no reason not to discard Deines and reschedule Beterbiev-Meng in North America, especially since Russia’s COVID situation recently forced Sergey Kovalev vs Bektemir Melikuziev to move to California. Fighting Meng would completely clear the path for a unification match with the winner of Joe Smith Jr. vs. Maxim Vlasov on February 13th, and considering how insistent the IBF is about champions facing mandatories, that’s no small accomplishment.