Artur Beterbiev Seeking Undisputed Bout with Dmitry Bivol
At the historic Madison Square Garden, unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) destroyed reigning WBO champ Joe Smith Jr (28-4, 22 KOs) in two rounds and now has three of the four recognized world belts in the division.
Beterbiev put on a clinical exhibition that featured ring intelligence, boxing technique, and destructive punching power. He neutralized Smith’s attack early, putting him down at the end of round one and finishing him off in the second. Fighting on ESPN, Beterbiev couldn’t have been more impressive.
MANDATORY OR UNDISPUTED
Now the question becomes: who is next? There seem to be two clear options currently on the table Beterbiev. One is a fight with WBO light heavyweight mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde (22-2, 21 KOs), who was in attendance at MSG. The other option is a fight against current WBA Super champion Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) for undisputed honors in the division.
Promoter Bob Arum stated before the contest he wants the winner to face Yarde in October in London, England. After making mincemeat of Smith, the question was asked by ESPN to Beterbiev who he’s more interested in fighting; Yarde or Bivol.
“I had two unification fights. Unification fights are more interesting; it’s more motivating. I prefer unified […] I want to be undisputed.”
For those who need a translator, Beterbiev prefers to face Bivol. The desire is more than understandable. Bivol is coming off a high-profile win over current undisputed super middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez in May. The two 175-pound champions are the top fighters in the divisions.
Their profiles are at an all-time high. On paper, it’s a great matchup between the aggression and destructive power of Beterbiev versus the slick boxing skills of Bivol. It would be hard to predict a definitive winner.
WHO IS GOING TO HAVE THE FINAL SAY?
But if Arum has another fighter he’s interested in, that may ultimately be the deciding factor. For him to publicly state he sees a fight with Yarde happening next, best believe the CEO of Top Rank has something already brewing. Beterbiev venturing to London to face Yarde has the recipe for a big event and a sizeable payday.
Here’s the other factor: Bivol has some sanctioning body business to take care of before a possible fight with Beterbiev. It’s looking more and more like his next fight will be against WBA mandatory challenger and previous WBO 168-pound champ Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez.
As much as Beterbiev prefers a unification matchup with Bivol, this is a bottom-line business. It’s a fight that certainly piques the interest of hardcore heads. Pundits would come with a slew of opinion pieces comparing the two champions. It’s one of the better matchups in the sport, but don’t look for it to happen next, not if Arum has any say-so.
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By: Michael Wilson Jr.