Light heavyweight contender Artur Beterbiev, who sat out from June 2015 until this past June because of a right shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, is set for the second bout of his comeback.
Beterbiev, a native of Russia who fights out of his adopted hometown Montreal, will face Paraguay's Isidro Ranoni Prieto in a scheduled 12-round bout on Dec. 23 at the Casino de Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec, promoter Yvon Michel announced Thursday.
"Despite the claims of some promoters and light heavyweight challengers, it's a fact that Artur Beterbiev is the most dangerous and biggest threat to all of the world light heavyweight champions," Michel said. "All contenders for titles change their minds when it comes to getting in the same ring with him. Isidro Prieto is a fierce fighter who accepted the challenge, also believing he has the style to repel even the most courageous boxer. He is determined to make a name for himself Dec. 23rd. We certainly admire his determination."
Beterbiev (10-0, 10 KOs), 31, a two-time Russian Olympian, made his return seven months after the surgery, knocking out Argentina's Ezequiel Maderna in the fourth round on June 4.
Prieto (26-1-3, 22 KOs), 30, has won two fights in a row. In his only loss, he dropped a unanimous decision to Eledier Alvarez, a Beterbiev promotional stablemate, in August 2015 in Montreal.
"Prieto is by far the best fighter available to fight Artur," trainer Marc Ramsay said. "He is very aggressive, and his style ensures a fight filled with action."
Said Beterbiev: "I'm really happy with the turn of events. During his time in Montreal, Prieto has shown that he is a true warrior, and that's the kind of opponent I want to face."
Before Beterbiev injured his shoulder, he was supposed to fight in a world title elimination bout with a shot at unified titlist Sergey Kovalev at stake. He defeated Kovalev in the amateur ranks. With the injury behind him, Beterbiev is likely to land an eliminator if he beats Prieto.
"He has all the qualities required to become world champion," said Andre Kulesza, Beterbiev's strength and conditioning coach. "He is healthy and always positive. He is highest level of athlete I have ever had the chance to work with in Montreal. Artur is naturally strong, agile and flexible. He will go up very quickly and destroy his rivals. Expect lots of KOs."
Beterbiev was put on the fast track by Michel as soon as he turned pro. He has already scored notable knockout wins against former world titleholders Tavoris Cloud and Gabriel Campillo.
Michel also announced that the kickoff of the new season of boxing cards at the Casino de Montreal will begin Oct. 20. The show will be headlined by a 10-round welterweight bout between 2012 Canadian Olympian Custio Clayton (9-0, 7 KOs) and Mexico's Ramses Agaton (17-4-3, 9 KOs).
"I work hard every week, and I always feel better when I work out," Clayton said. "I had a solid training camp in Montreal and a few days in Ottawa with my trainer. I'll be ready."