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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Why Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol undisputed light heavyweight title fight must happen next

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OK, let’s not get lost in overstatement. Artur Beterbiev vs. Anthony Yarde wasn’t quite Archie Moore vs. Yvonne Durelle 1, or Matthew Saad Muhammad vs. Yaqui Lopez 2. But while Wembley Arena might not have played host to an all-time classic, there’s no question Beterbiev and Yarde delivered a memorable modern-day light heavyweight showdown on Saturday and no one is asking for their money back.

Beterbiev, who successfully defended the IBF, WBC, and WBO championships via eighth-round stoppage, dished out a truckload of punishment and was forced to endure plenty himself. Ultimately, it was the champ’s experience, ring savvy, and stamina that proved to be the difference in a high-impact encounter.

By the time the gallant Yarde crashed to the canvas midway through the eighth, he was completely out of fuel.

MORE: BETERBIEV HALTS GAME YARDE IN EIGHT ROUNDS

So what’s next for Beterbiev, who improved to a remarkable 19-0 (19 KOs)?

Who will Artur Beterviev fight next?

Well, the only light heavyweight on earth who wouldn’t open as a huge underdog is Dmitry Bivol. The reigning WBA champ is quick, agile, super-talented, and he’s unbeaten in 21 fights with 11 knockouts. And unlike Yarde, the 32-year-old Russian technician can match his countryman for amateur pedigree and championship experience.

Bivol was The Sporting News Male Fighter of the Year for 2022. In May, he kicked open the door to stardom by outclassing then-pound-for-pound No. 1 Canelo Alvarez en route to a 12-round unanimous decision win. Four months later, Bivol ventured to Abu Dhabi and thoroughly outpointed former super middleweight champ Gilberto Ramirez.

Beterbiev vs. Bivol is the most eagerly anticipated light heavyweight championship fight for over five years. If I’ve got it right, Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev 2, which took place in June 2017, is the most recent 175-pound collision to qualify as a superfight. However, Beterbiev vs. Bivol would have the added bonus of crowning the first undisputed light heavyweight champion since Roy Jones Jr. in 2003.

It doesn’t get much bigger – but we’re running out of time.

MORE: Ranking the biggest 30 fights we want to see in 2023

Why Beterbiev vs. Bivol fight must happen now

More than one expert has stated that the 38-year-old Beterbiev is showing signs of decline. Habitually bulletproof, the unified champ was shaken to his boots and made a slew of unforced errors against Yarde. While Yarde fought a magnificent fight, the visitor rushed his work at times and was caught on the counter by several meaty headshots. While Beterbiev has only had 19 professional fights, he had 300 bouts as an amateur. All of that damage takes a toll on a near-40-year-old body.

That’s why Beterbiev vs. Bivol needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Marinating fights is a nightmare process at the best of times. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao moved around each other for five or six years before they got together. A potential Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford showdown is so overcooked that it’s beyond well done. As a result, legacies suffer and so do the fans.

With Beterbiev vs. Bivol, there are clear signs that this one has a sell-by date. Let’s run through the biggwt obstacles one by one.

Biggest obstacles for Beterbiev vs. Bivol fight

Let’s start with Canelo Alvarez.

Canelo wants to exact revenge on Bivol, but the Mexican superstar has a ton of options and it might benefit him to wait it out. And being honest, how many people are giving Canelo a shot in a rematch? One has to admire his fighting guts, but Canelo looked lost at sea against the Russian star who gave him an absolute nightmare at the T-Mobile Arena.

The other issue with making Beterbiev vs. Bivol is politics. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

Top Rank and Yvon Michel co-promote Beterbiev, while Bivol works with Matchroom Boxing/ DAZN. Promoter Bob Arum has stated more than once that Beterbiev vs. Bivol must be aired on ESPN, which is not good news for DAZN. Wouldn’t it be nice if all this could be sorted out in a hurry so that the fans can benefit?

Politics in boxing is a tale as old as time and certainly could prove to be the most significant complicating factor standing in the way.

We can only hope that the priority for all concerned is to make the best light heavyweight fight possible.

And make no mistake: Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol is the fight.

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