Top Rank confirmed on Monday that WBC and IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev tested positive for COVID-19, meaning his Jan. 30 championship fight against Adam Deines has once again been postponed.
Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) and Deines (19-1, 10 KOs) were set to do battle back on Oct. 23, only for it to be called off due to a rib injury picked up by the unbeaten champion during training.
Their second date, positioned for Moscow's VTB Arena in Beterbiev's native Russia, will now likely make way for a third attempt later on in 2021.
Beterbiev, the only current champion in boxing to have defeated all of his opponents inside the scheduled distance, continues to wait for his first fight since unifying the WBC title with his IBF strap with a tenth-round TKO of Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October 2019.
Germany's Deines' enforced absence, meanwhile, runs a little longer. He flattened Yevgenii Makhteienko in his home town of Magdeburg on Sept. 28 for a second straight win, bouncing back from his only professional defeat at the hands of Fanlong Meng that June.
Given the champ's injury- and illness-plagued misfortunes, there is a chance that Top Rank will give up on the fight with Deines altogether and pursue a bigger showdown.
Beterbiev could move on to face the winner of the Feb. 13 fight between Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov for the vacant WBO light-heavyweight title. It would offer a far more exciting scenario with a three-belt unification bout than continuing to try and make the Deines fight happen.