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Artur Beterbiev defends light heavy belt against Radivoje Kalajdzic; Ancajas returns

Photo / @TRboxing
Fighters Network

Hard-hitting and unbeaten Artur Beterbiev will defend his IBF light heavyweight title against Radivoje Kalajdzic on May 4, Top Rank announced.

The 12-round bout will take place at the Stockton Arena in Stockton, California and will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

The Top Rank card will feature Stockton resident and 18-year-old Gabriel Flores, Jr. in a six-round lightweight bout against Eduardo Pereira. Rounding out the telecast will be Jerwin Ancajas defending his IBF junior bantamweight title against mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai.

“Top Rank is really excited to bring big time boxing to Stockton on May 4,” said promoter Bob Arum. “The light heavyweight championship between Beterbiev and ‘Hot Rod’ (Kalajdzic) will be a thrilling brawl. Gabriel Flores will have the opportunity to perform before his hometown fans, and we welcome Jerwin Ancajas back in a great fight against Funai.”

Beterbiev (13-0, 13 knockouts), who is originally from Russia and now resides in Montreal, Canada, will be making the second defense of his world title belt. In his last bout on Oct. 6, Beterbiev knocked out Callum Johnson in the fourth round.

The 34-year-old Beterbiev wants to make a statement at the expense of Kalajdzic to the rest of the world titleholders that he is the best fighter at 175 pounds.

“I am very excited to defend my IBF light heavyweight title on May against a high-quality opponent like Radivoje Kalajdzic,” said Beterbiev. “This will be a great fight, and I can’t wait to get int he ring and show once again why I am the best 175-pound boxer in the world.”

Beterbiev is ranked No. 6 by The Ring.

Kalajdzic (24-1, 17 KOs), who is originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina and now resides in Saint Petersburg, Florida, knocked out Alex Theran in the opening round of his last bout on Oct. 5.

The 27-year-old Kalajdzic has won his last three bouts since losing by split-decision to contender Marcus Browne in April of 2016, a fight many boxing scribes thought Kalajdzic did enough to win.

“I’m thrilled to get this opportunity to challenge for a world title against a great fighter like Artur Beterbiev,” said Kalajdzic. “It will be a very exciting fight. Both of us hit hard, so expect fireworks. I am focused on securing a victory and will take full advantage of this shot. A win opens so many doors for me and will change my life. On May 4, the light heavyweight division will have a new world champion.”

Flores (12-0, 5 KOs) last fought on Feb. 10 in nearby Fresno, defeating Alejandro Torres Rynn by unanimous decision over 10 rounds. Flores, a 2018 graduate of Cesar Chavez High School in Stockton, is using his celebrity to speak out against bullying amongst teens.

“I was born and raised in Stockton, and it is the city I still call home,” said Flores, who signed a promotional deal two years ago with Top Rank at the age of 16. “To get the opportunity to fight at the big arena in front of my friends, family, and biggest fans is a dream come true. One day, I will fill up that arena as a world champion. I am excited to use my platform to show kids that bullying is unacceptable and that we must treat each other with dignity and respect.”

Pereira (23-5, 19 KOs), who resides in Sao Paolo, Brazil, has lost two of his last three fights.

Ancajas will be making the sixth defense of his IBF world title belt.

The southpaw Ancajas (30-1-2, 20 KOs), who resides in Cavite City in the Philippines, fought to a split-decision draw against Alejandro Santiago on Sept. 28.

“I am going to be in the best shape in my upcoming fight with Funai,” said Ancajas, who was back in the gym three weeks after the Santiago fight. “Coming off my last fight, I really want to give a great performance and defend my world title in style for the fans in Stockton and everyone watching on ESPN.”

Funai (31-7, 22 KOs) has won his last seven fights since his majority decision loss to Sho Ishida in April of 2016. Funai will be fighting for the first time outside Japan.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing