Dmitry Bivol, the conqueror of Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, wants to unify the light-heavyweight division against the winner of Saturday’s clash between Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr.
Beterbiev, originally from Russia and now based in Canada, fights America’s Smith at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday, live on Sky Sports, for three of the four major light-heavyweight titles.
Bivol defended the WBA championship in May courtesy of a spectacular upset win against Alvarez. He is now looking to become the undisputed champion at 175lbs and waiting to take on the Beterbiev-Smith victor in a fight for all four belts.
Andrey Ryabinskiy, Bivol’s promoter, told Sky Sports, “We like both of these fighters [Beterbiev and Smith] very much.
“Bivol would be extremely interested in having a fight against the winner of this bout, especially if the winner is Artur Beterbiev.
“The fight between Bivol-Beterbiev is a long-awaited dream of all boxing fans.”
Both Bivol and Beterbiev are vying to prove themselves as the top light-heavyweight in the world today. Bivol has held a WBA belt for five years and outpointed Smith in 2019. Beterbiev however is one of the most feared punchers in the sport. A top class world champion as an amateur, he has unified the WBC and IBF titles in the course of his run of 17 knockout victories as a professional.
While Smith will be a tough, rugged challenge for him, Beterbiev hopes to add the American’s WBO championship to his collection on Saturday.
Top Rank promote the upcoming Beterbiev-Smith unification and the company’s president, Todd DuBoef confirmed that they will be looking to make the undisputed fight for the winner.
“We’ve over the years had conversations about Bivol and Beterbiev fighting. When things during Covid kind of locked up and everything was in paralysis it didn’t go very far,” DuBoef told Sky Sports. “I think that pot has gotten bigger as a result of the emergence of Bivol who came from nowhere with the big upset.
“I think that division obviously got a bit of a boost when Bivol upset Canelo.”
But there will be plenty of options for the winner of this fight. “You have a guy, Anthony Yarde from your neck of the woods [the UK] that is a mandatory challenger for that [WBO title]. So he’s going to be thrown into the mix. Bivol is in the mix obviously and you got guys like [former super-middleweight titlist] Gilberto Ramirez and things like that,” DuBoef noted. “I think there’s really a lot of matches in that division now.”
Both Beterbiev and Smith have it all to fight for on Saturday. “Obviously Bivol has the win over Joe Smith,” the promoter continued. “It looked like a cruising win but in those late rounds Joe almost had him out. And that’s how dangerous Joe is.
“I think the winner of that [Beterbiev-Smith] fight is going to be standing over the other guy because I think that fight is going to end in a knockout. I think you’ve got two hellacious punchers who can take and that’s going to be the real test.”
Watch Artur Beterbiev vs Joe Smith Jr, live on Sky Sports from 2.30am on Sunday morning.