Artur Beterbiev (9-0, 9 KO’s) has been ordered by the IBF to face Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KO’s) in an IBF light-heavyweight title eliminator, according to his promoter Yvon Michel.
Hopkins, 50, has been out of the ring since last November when he was beaten and dominated by light-heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev, who holds the IBF, WBO, and WBA belts.
It’s unlikely Hopkins is going to accept, though, as the living legend has stated his willingness to move down to the super-middleweight division to fight for one more world championship, a division where he’s never won a World title.
Hopkins left the middleweight division after two controversial defeats to former titlist Jermain Taylor in 2005; moving up two weight classes in 2006 to face then IBO World champion Antonio Tarver, and won the fight convincingly.
After taking a drubbing against Kovalev a year ago, it’s doubtful Hopkins would perform any better in a rematch at 50 years old, and even more doubtful that HBO would approve.
Hopkins is an old-school fella – he doesn’t hold anything back – and this is what he said when pressed about his future in the sport following the Kovalev loss.
“Asking me to fight again right now is like asking a woman who was just in nine hours of labor to have another baby.”
Beterbiev was last in the ring on June 12 in Chicago when he stopped Alexander Johnson in the seventh round on the undercard of Lara-Rodriguez on PBC on Spike.
According to Boxing Scene, both sides have until Aug. 6 to accept the fight.
If no deal is made, the opportunity will be given to IBF No. 3 ranked, undefeated Swedish fighter Erik Skoglund (22-0, 11 KO’s), who is slated to defend his IBF Inter-Continental light-heavyweight title against Oleksandr Cherviak on September 19th.
With the possibility that Skoglund will be unavailable, the offer will fall on No. 4 ranked, who hasn’t fought since March, defeating Vasily Lepikhin to claim the vacant NABF light-heavyweight title.
Beterbiev is also in negotiations to fight Kovalev on Thanksgiving weekend on November 28th in Russia, so we’ll see what happens.