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Bektemir Melikuziev takes step up in competition against Sergey Kovalev on January 30

Watch out world-rated middleweights, super middleweights and light heavyweights, Bek the Bully has arrived!

Bektemir Melikuziev will take a major step-up in competition as he squares off against former three-time world light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev on January 30, a source confirmed to The Ring Wednesday evening.

Dan Rafael was the first to report the fight.

The 12-round bout will take place at the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow, Russia and will stream live on DAZN.

The fight will be a significant crossroads bout as Kovalev, who is ranked No. 3 by The Ring, will attempt to bounce back from a devastating loss in his last bout while Melikuziev will measure himself against his toughest opponent to date on paper. 

Kovalev (34-4-1, 29 KOs) has not fought since November 2 of last year, when he lost by knockout in round 11 to Ring Magazine champion Canelo Alvarez. With the loss, Kovalev lost his WBO light heavyweight title.

Before his fight against Alvarez, Kovalev, who is managed by Egis Klimas, signed a three-fight deal with DAZN. Kovalev was scheduled to fight Sullivan Barrera on April 25 in Indio, California, which would have streamed live on DAZN, but the fight was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Including the loss to Alvarez, the 37-year-old Kovalev has split his last four bouts. Kovalev was knocked out by Eleider Alvarez in August 2018, but defeated Alvarez in a rematch six months later. Kovalev won back the WBO title with the victory.

Melikuziev (6-0, 5 knockouts), a former amateur standout who won a silver medal for Uzbekistan at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, has decimated modest opposition thus far in his career that began on June 13 last year. 

In his last bout on October 30 in his adopted hometown of Indio, the southpaw Melikuziev, battered Mexico’s Alan Campa, dropping him three times before the fight was stopped in round 3. In his previous bout on February 14, Melikuziev dropped Oscar Cortes twice to win by knockout in the opening round.

Melikuziev, who is promoted by Golden Boy and managed by Vadim Kornilov, is trained by Joel Diaz.

The clash between Kovalev and Melikuziev will take place on the same day and across town as the WBO light heavyweight title fight between Artur Beterbiev and challenger Adam Deines, which will take place at the VTB Arena. That fight was officially announced Wednesday and will stream live on ESPN+. 

Beterbiev is ranked No. 1 by The Ring.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring 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. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing