The recent retirement of pound-for-pound king and unified light heavyweight world titleholder Andre Ward has opened the door for contenders Artur Beterbiev and Enrico Koelling.
Beterbiev and Koelling were scheduled to meet in a world title eliminator on Nov. 11 for the right to become one of Ward's mandatory challengers. However, Ward announced his retirement on Sept. 21 and has since formally notified the IBF that he has vacated its 175-pound world title.
So on Thursday, the IBF officially upgraded the Beterbiev-Koelling elimination bout to a fight for its vacant word title.
The IBF sent a letter to Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti notifying him of the change in status of the fight.
"This is to notify you that IBF light heavyweight champion Andre Ward has retired. Now that the title is vacant, the IBF will approve the Artur Beterbiev vs. Enrico Koelling eliminator as a fight for the vacant title," the IBF wrote.
The fight will take place at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, on a Top Rank ESPN tripleheader.
Montreal-based Artur Beterbiev (11-0, 11 KOs), 32, a two-time Russian Olympian and one of boxing's most devastating punchers, and Germany's Koelling (23-1, 6 KOs), 27, will fight on the card that includes two other notable fights.
Junior featherweight world titleholder Jessie Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KOs), 25, of Las Vegas, will make his first defense, a mandatory, against Cesar Juarez (20-5, 15 KOs), 26, of Mexico, and Jose Ramirez (20-0, 15 KOs), 25, a 2012 U.S. Olympian and a big ticket seller from nearby Avenal, California, will square off with Mike Reed (23-0, 12 KOs), 24, of Waldorf, Maryland, in a battle of unbeaten junior welterweights.